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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The history of voluntary renunciation of nuclear weapons carries many useful lessons


The collapse of US foreign policy paradox the promise Transvasement Hetman is unlikely to please ukrainevictor of voluntary renunciation of nuclear weapons carries many useful lessons

The current policy of confrontation around the world the DPRK’s nuclear programme will fail. It proves to us the story itself, or rather, the history of voluntary refusal of one of the countries of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery. We are talking about South Africa, which had been crushed and sanctions, and war, and diplomatic tantrums. But in the end the West was wrong, as wrong now.

“Ideological father” of the nuclear programme of South Africa (as indeed some other countries), you can call the U.S. President Dwight IKE Eisenhower, speaking from the rostrum of the UN General Assembly on 8 December 1953, with his famous speech “Atoms for peace” (not to be confused with the Soviet Polichinelle urgency about “the peaceful atom in every home”). “I am compelled to speak today in a language that is inherently new, which I have devoted the greater part of his life the military profession – would prefer never to use. This new language – the language of nuclear weapons”, – he said at the time.

So began the American program “atom for peace” for domestic consumption is called “Operation Kandor”. In fact, it was a massive propaganda campaign – one of the elements of the strategic ideological operations of the cold war, which involved all of the American media, educational and scientific organizations, politicians and scientists. It lasted for years, and its goal was officially considered the so-called emotional control (emotional management) – maintaining in society a balance between fear of nuclear war and the belief in peaceful use of uranium for commercial and research purposes. That is, at the same time it was required to intimidate a population, the growing nuclear potential of the USSR, but to convince him the idea that “their” atomic objects exclusively peaceful, secure and progressive.

During this period, the CIA convinced the White house that in the USSR there was a sharp quantitative and qualitative breakthrough in the field of nuclear weapons and means of delivery. This caused surrounded by Eisenhower almost panic, but the President himself, surprisingly, was under the enormous influence of leftist ideas Robert Oppenheimer – at that time the disgraced “father of the atomic bomb”. However, this did not stop the IKE initiate long-term plans first nuclear strike on the Soviet Union and its allies.

Within the United States “Operation Kandor” was to provide the Eisenhower administration the public support in the production of atomic weapons, which required huge allocations and the construction of a large number of nuclear power plants, and processing centers and other high-risk facilities. Almost every day in all available then the American media (dominated by print and radio) were arranged respective shows with the participation of leading politicians, including the President. The schools held special classes, and academic and educational institutions was formed by the relevant faculties and departments. This campaign became one of the first nationwide outreach network projects US to the joy of the lovers of conspiracy theorists and strategists.

But there was “Operation Kandor” and, no less important goal.

Most researchers agree that Eisenhower’s speech was mainly aimed at the European allies, while openly paniculata due to the prospect to burn in the hell of the Third world war first. The white house then passed to the doctrine of the “American nuclear umbrella”, but also promoted the “peaceful” nuclear technology among the allies – both real and potential. To less than feared.

Eisenhower went the wrong way Khrushchev simply gave the atomic bomb to the Maoist China, which provided a migraine all mankind. On the contrary, he initiated what is now called the regime of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. The problem is that the other arm (usually the left) of the USA during the same period, gave the most diverse countries of technologies “peace atom”, sometimes for reactors, sometimes tons of uranium. In this way and the first nuclear reactors in Iran, Israel (famous for “research center” in Dimona) and Pakistan, and built them a one company American Machine & Foundry (AMF).

I wonder how its leaders sleep at night?

Two designs of hell

In the framework of the program “Atoms for peace” South Africa in 1957 concluded with US the contract on half a century forward, providing for the supply to the Union of South Africa (then the country was still called the South African Union) of a nuclear reactor and highly enriched uranium (HEU) for him. With the forces was going quite a long time, but in 1965, the company Allis-Chalmers, previously seen mainly in the production of agricultural machinery, after all, placed in Union of South Africa research reactor SAFARI-1 with the enriched 90% with nuclear fuel. The Boers, however, this was not enough due to the inability to produce SAFARI-1 plutonium. Local craftsmen are first screwed to the reactor accelerator to continue uranium enrichment, and two years later, and is built next to a new that uploaded 606 kg two-percent uranium fuel, and 5.4 tons of heavy water, legally delivered from the USA. For cooling was used, the molten sodium – local know-how.

All this joy has placed 30 kilometers from the political capital of South Africa Pretoria at the GES Hartbeespoort on the lands of the former family farm of Gustav Preller – writer, journalist, philologist, one of the ideologists of the nationalism of the Boer and the great-grandson of the founder of the capital of the Marthinus Pretorius. Farm (now an urban-type settlement), called Pelindaba. With language Zulu it means “the end of history” (“final solution”, if you will). But then, this detail did not seem funny or prophetic.

In principle, South Africa started to think about its own nuclear weapons long before that. In 1948 was created the South African nuclear energy Corporation, initially Nazirova for uranium mining. Having our own fields much easier, and the main problem was the fuel enrichment to the level required in the production of weapons-grade uranium or plutonium.

The choice between uranium and plutonium – it is a choice between fundamentally different approaches to the design and production of nuclear weapons. Plutonium bomb – a weapon much more sophisticated and destructive, but require special technologies, as the more unstable plutonium. If plutonium warheads to connect fast enough or not sufficiently exactly, a chain reaction may begin before the moment when there will be a maximum connection charges. This will lead to incomplete energy output, and the bomb will turn into what is called “pop,” the explosion might be powerful, but comparable to the detonation of just a large amount of conventional explosives, which is inefficient, based on the ratio quality/price.

By the way, in simulations of a nuclear explosion by detonation of several thousand tons of TNT has long suspected North Korea after their first underground test.

But back to South Africa. Until approximately 1969 there tried both to enrich uranium and to produce plutonium, downloading from both reactors. But these two years even slow the Boers was enough to understand that the production of plutonium too difficult and expensive, whereas uranium enrichment is very good. Plutonium program was closed, which naturally determined the structural features of the South African nuclear weapons – the production of small, so-called limiting uranium bombs on “cannon” technology.

This is the easiest, by today’s standards even the obtuse option, copied from the earliest bombs used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “Cannon” it is not because nuclear bombs out of a cannon shoot, and because one uranium briquettes (“bullet”) guide to real estate other (“target”) to combine and reach critical mass. It’s too easy, but not as puzzling as plutonium.

You need to understand that at the beginning of 1970-ies of any fundamental mysteries in the design and production of nuclear weapons no longer exists, and such a huge cost as in the development of “Manhattan project” was not required. Every year the production of nuclear weapons becoming cheaper and more accessible, this process is still ongoing. The main problem was (and still is) uranium enrichment – the process and technology (hence the interest in Iranian centrifuges). Before the raw material, uranium deposits in Namibia provided them in abundance.

And then began a Thriller.

Dangerously close to Osama

In 1969, a pair of South African scientists was found in the British Birmingham with Pakistani graduate student-nuclear scientist Sultan Mahmoud, which is kind of like working on a study of the uranium enrichment process through aerodynamic nozzle. It is believed that this “centrifuge for the poor” formed the basis of the enrichment technology that simultaneously were used in Pakistan and South Africa. Confused only by the speed with which South Africa managed to build in Pelindaba equipment required to enrich enough uranium to assemble the seven bombs. The same Pakistan was busy until 1982, before they were finally built a plant for uranium enrichment at Kahuta.

Sultan Mahmud live so far, although his whole life is suspicious.

He really worked as the Director of Pakistan’s “uranium project”, but rather as the ideologist and organizer, not as a scientist and researcher. In addition, he consistently stood for the construction of gas centrifuges and was eventually removed from the practical work, and then plunged in religion and politics, went to Afghanistan, joined first by the Taliban and then to al-Qaida, as head of his own organization is extremely left-wing of the Islamic “Ummah Tamir-e-NAU”.

After the attacks of 9/11 this amazing man was detained by Pakistani intelligence at the request of the CIA, but a few months of questioning yielded nothing. As it turned out, he knew nothing about the technologies of production of nuclear weapons and, according to agents who questioned him, “could not collect a single bomb”. At the same time, Sultan Mahmud confirmed that Osama bin Laden during a meeting with him was interested in nuclear technology.

This is one of the few cases where the CIA openly admitted their mistake in the development of the “wrong” person. And it is unlikely that this person could share some valuable knowledge with the Boers in 1969. However, the official history of the South African nuclear project insists on this version, that looks suspiciously like a red herring.

Over the past 25 years has published several books with varying degrees of claim to credibility, as well as a dozen newspaper articles in which it is argued that a crucial assistance to South Africa provided Israel.

Ideological content of this altruism was not, but later nuclear cooperation on the background of anti-communism has created a strange friendship, the Alliance between Israel and white South Africa (who, incidentally, has survived until now in an even more bizarre collaboration of Israel with extreme right-wing organizations, whites in South Africa, including terrorists-the underground, fighting for the restoration of the apartheid regime). Worse, the ideology of the Boers during apartheid was heavily involved in the anti-Semitism that has found a practical framework in total dominance of the ANC leadership and the clandestine Communist party of South Africa come from families of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. But the richest family South Africa – the Oppenheimers, the owners of the diamond monopolist De Beers – easily found a common language with Israel, having founded the diamond exchange in tel Aviv. It is assumed that they could help with a military connection, although Oppenheimer, Jr., the apartheid regime didn’t like (for avoidance of doubt, the “father of the atomic bomb” he’s not a relative, and namesake).

The interest of the Israelites were in the area for testing its own nuclear technology. Blow a sample of a few megatons in the tiny state was not possible, and South Africa, with its deserts and oceans were almost ideal platform. In addition, unenriched uranium, the Boers were heaps but rare-earth materials (tritium and deuterium) did not exist. As a result, in 1977 there was an agreement under which Israel traded from South Africa 50 tons of uranium for 30 grams of tritium.

In 1979, happened the so-called “Vela incident” – one of the most mysterious accidents in the twentieth century.

Mysterious island

Bouvet island in the Atlantic ocean itself is the mysterious. This is one of the most remote Islands from the land on the planet (Cape town – 2500 km, to the Northern tip of Antarctica – 1700), about two-thirds covered with glaciers. It is doubtful that there are even penguins, and to land it only with the helicopter due to the height of the rocks and glaciers. No living person has never spent on Bouvet whole winter – and is unlikely to do so voluntarily. The pirates landed there maroon – men, sentenced to death by starvation for misdemeanors, incompatible with pirate code of honor.

But perhaps most surprising is that the island belongs is located in a straight line at the opposite end of the globe Norway (as a dependent territory). In 1939, the Soviet Union tried to challenge him from the Vikings, since Oslo, the reason is claimed to the neighbouring island of Peter I, opened the expedition to the Lazarev and Bellingshausen. Then both countries were interested in very different issues and dispute pozabyla.

On 22 September 1979 a us reconnaissance satellite Vela 6911, specially designed for the fixation of Soviet nuclear tests, accidentally flew over Bouvet and recorded the series of light bursts, characteristic of a nuclear explosion of low power – 2-3 kilotons. The satellite was lucky – it was a rare day when the island was cleared up. A month later, the national security Council, the United States released a report which explicitly stated that the test of a nuclear warhead, although in the area of Bouvet island, there was not a increase of a radioactive background, no accompanying nuclear explosion seismic activity.

Dieter Gephardt was the main source of information on the “Vela incident” (photo:

The international community frowned in the direction of Africa. There was no one more. At least because to fly there could only be local strategic bomber “Canberra”, and then – with four fill-UPS. The Boers in response shrugged and Protestant habitually pointed to the sky. According to them, it was a meteorite, but many hinted at aliens.

The interplanetary version of the Boers followed until the fall of the apartheid regime, and only in 1997, the foreign Minister of South Africa Aziz Pahad indirectly something recognized, but was vague and unconvincing.

Subsequently, the main source of information on the “Vela incident” and all cooperation South Africa and Israel in the nuclear field became Commodore of the Navy of South Africa Dieter Gephardt, who commanded at that time the largest naval base in the country in Simon’s town near Cape town. In 1994, after leaving prison, he said: “Although I am not directly involved either in the preparation or execution of the operation, I accidentally found out that the outbreak was organized in the framework of the Israeli-South African nuclear test under the code “Operation “Phoenix”. The explosion was clean and was not supposed to detect. But they were not smart enough and the weather changed so the Americans and its fixed”. That is, if the density of the clouds over the island to Bouvet would be more, no one would have noticed.

Revenge for father

Commodore (now rear Admiral retired) Dieter Gephardt from 1962 until his arrest in 1983 for ideological reasons worked for the GRU of the General staff of the USSR armed forces. He voluntarily surrendered to the Soviet Embassy in London, offered his services as a spy and got the pseudonym “Felix”.

A German by birth (born in Berlin in 1935), he avenged the Boer government of the father – the Berlin architect who had emigrated to the Union of South Africa in the years of economic depression and an internee in 1941, as a supporter of the Nazi party. Those in the country were many – Hitler sympathized with not only ethnic Germans, but also many Boers, finding the theory of racial superiority of the Nordic nation an attractive and in tune with their own ideas. Already in prison Gephardt positioned himself as a fighter against apartheid, but it is still unlikely: in South Africa, he belonged to the elite of society was swimming in money, he held key positions in the Navy and the General staff, lived in a neighboring house with President Pieter Botha, and their wives were friends.

Twice (1972 and 1976) spouse Gephardt visited the USSR, where they were fed black caviar, took me to the Bolshoi theater and the Hermitage, were entertained in Sochi and in the Crimea. Over 20 years of experience in the Soviet military intelligence, the Commodore was transferred to Moscow incredible amount of useful material not only for South Africa but also by key opponents, for example, in the UK, where he served as a military attache. Shocked the British compare the Gephardt Kim Philby, recognize its destructive power and still spit in his face fiery saliva.

The relationship with him and his wife, who received the nickname “Lina”, all this time was carried out by the scout-illegal immigrant Colonel Vitaly Shlykov.

Spouses Gephardt gave Lieutenant Colonel of the KGB, Vladimir Vetrov (“Farewell”) recruited by the French (later shot). In January 1983, Commodore was arrested by the FBI in new York and after 11 days of interrogation under the threat of murder of his wife and children issued a communication system with the GRU. From the gallows he was only saved by the fact that as a result of his activities was killed not a single South African soldier.

Shlykov took the act in Switzerland, the home of his mother Ruth Gephardt were found spyware supplies and large sums of money. In the end, Colonel-an illegal immigrant was sentenced to three years in prison, but with the efforts of the GRU, he was released after 11 months, returned to the USSR and died in 2011, including a Professor of the Higher school of Economics.

In early 1992, Russian President Boris Yeltsin during a personal meeting in Moscow, announced the South African President Frederick de Clerk with the request to Amnesty for Gephardt, sentenced to life. This request was incorrectly worded due to the ignorance of the Kremlin’s South African realities: the Amnesty were subject to only members of the ANC, in which Gephardt was never. But in the end de Klerk just pardoned the Gephardt and then-Minister of defense of South Magnus Malan said specifically that this decision is directly related to the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and South Africa. The Gephardt retroactively awarded the rank of rear Admiral and given a pension. Since then, he quite willingly gives interviews and has become, as mentioned above, the only source of information on nuclear cooperation between Israel and South Africa.

However, many researchers are sceptical about the information of Gephardt. If he really had on his hands something besides “words hearsay”, “the Vela incident” has long ceased to interest ufologists. But Israeli sources categorically reject even the idea of such cooperation with South Africa.

But seven years ago, the British The Guardian, historically specializing in South African themes, has published the unit of classified documents on South Africa’s nuclear deal with Israel in 1975. Shimon Peres accused the newspaper of “pulling quotes out of context”, but the documents indicate a sale in Pretoria technologies and materials needed to build six nuclear warheads. As much of Africa and produced.

And what exactly is Israel’s participation in the development for Africa, means of delivery of nuclear weapons.

From the atomic bomb South Africa always had a clear goal – Angola, and Soviet and Cuban military personnel participated in military action against the South African army in Angola, and the Kaplan – Bush near the border with Namibia. Initially, it was enough for the bombers “Canberra”, but in the southern areas of Angola around Luanda and in the composition of the Cuban expeditionary force put the Soviet air defense system, Canberra has become a major goal. This did not prevent them methodically destroy the Soviet military advisers and interpreters in Quito-the Carnival, but to deliver to them a single nuclear warheads would be too risky. It demanded that Pretoria search of new media.

Nuclear research centre in South Africa (photo: NJR ZA/wikipedia.org)

Soon the army South Africa appeared ballistic missiles, the RSA-3 and RSA-4 – export options Israeli missiles “Jericho” and the “Shavit”. There are doubts that these missiles (and there were no more than ten) their technical characteristics, in principle, could carry the South African atomic bomb. It is possible that they were used exclusively to psychological pressure, not the Cubans or the Soviet advisers, and on the West of the country.

In the late ‘ 80s South Africa three such rockets launched into sub-orbital trajectories of satellites to monitor the movement of military equipment in Angola and on the Caplin. Inertia space program worked until about 1993, when the allocated money ran out. After that Pretoria has entered into an international regime of control over missile technology and allowed its territory to American observers – to observe the dismantling of appropriate infrastructure. Under its ruins buried secret Israeli-South Africa business cooperation in nuclear and missile technology.

The main crime of apartheid

In 1971, the Minister of industry, Republic of South Africa Carl de Wet has openly announced the beginning of the programme “peaceful nuclear tests in the interests of the mining industry”, referring to a similar American program. In the Kalahari desert began to drill the ground and dug up two nuclear mines 385 and 216 meters deep. At that time, South Africa still does not have enough enriched uranium to begin serial Assembly of nuclear warheads and the tests were planned “in the cold”, that is, without directly uranium charges, they had to test the technology of blasting. Usual story – technology is evolving rapidly, and the accumulation of enriched weapons-grade uranium requires time.

The fact of preparation for a nuclear test in the Kalahari, the accumulation of weapons-grade uranium and mining in Namibia was illegal a Soviet spy, Alexei Kozlov, who worked in South Africa under the guise of a German citizen – merchant equipment. He was issued a traitor Gordievsky, spent several years in prison in inhuman conditions and was exchanged for ten spies of Germany, arrested in the USSR and the GDR, and a soldier of Africa, captured on the Caplin.

And then unprecedented happened in the entire history of the cold war: the Soviet Union gave the US all received from Kozlova data about nuclear technologies in South Africa.

The idea was risky, but the calculation is true – the West was shocked at the “shot from around the corner” from the loyal government of South Africa nobody expected such a dangerous independence. It seems that by that time in the US, and far more involved in African realities the UK has simply not understood the motives that drove the Boers.

First, the Americans were surprised and did not believe. However sent a spy plane that recorded in the Kalahari test site with almost laid mine charges. So in August 1977 South Africa began the diplomatic hell that lasted almost 15 years. USA, UK, France, joined by Sweden descended on Pretoria, with the threat of severance of diplomatic relations. Behind them were giggling, the Soviet Union, which never had any relations with South Africa, except through the scope on the Caplin, training camps in the Crimea and near Odessa, Umkhonto ve Sizwe and endless war intelligence. At the same time as pressure on Pretoria began to actively use the human rights theme, hit the “sanctions regime” – from the termination of Bank activities, such as disqualification of all sports teams.

In South Africa, this not too scared (for the then government, the preservation of apartheid and the creation of its own weapons systems, including nuclear, was submitted to the national idea on the brink of physical survival of the nation), but the new Minister of industry Wynand de Villiers still ordered to postpone the test and mothball the mine.

Ten years later, when the war in the Caplin turned into a massacre, and the Cubans threatened to invade the territory of Namibia, one of the mines was defiantly reopen, and the airfield was transferred Vastrap converted into a special delivery all the same “Canberra”. But it was a diplomatic gesture rather than a military – Pretoria has managed to get himself a better position in negotiations with Luanda and Havana.

The lessons of the past to the present

Not playing in any officially registered testing nuclear weapons (“Vela incident” does not count), South Africa produced six nuclear warheads serial in (presumably) 6-10 kilotons each, placed in the body “smart” remote-controlled bomb under the code name HAMERKOP (in Afrikaans – “Molotova”). Began to collect and seventh, but then the war in the Caplin ended, and the process of dismantling apartheid, by contrast, has begun. For triangular (South Africa, Angola and Cuba) agreements in new York, Namibia was granted independence, and the Cuban troops returned home victorious.

By the way, the defense Minister Malan to the last believed that negotiating with the Soviet Union, and shame call to the address of the Cubans “soviet”s proxy”.

The elimination of nuclear weapons has been called “an important step” towards a reintegration of sanctions isolated South Africa in the international community, and in 1989, the nuclear program has officially turned, and the bomb is dismantled under the supervision of us experts and disposed of. Two years later, South Africa signed the Treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, but only in 1994, the IAEA has finally confirmed that nuclear weapons in South Africa is no more, and all nuclear programs are exclusively peaceful in nature.

The main factors for the voluntary elimination of South Africa from nuclear weapons was the inability to apply it and the desire to “defeatist” government of de Klerk to bring the country out of isolation by any means. And it was that desire from within, unrelated to the foreign circumstances.

In this story it is noteworthy that the efforts of one or even several countries, which have some exclusive influence on the “unlicensed” holder of nuclear weapons, was not enough to persuade him to-disarmament, or at least compromise. The extent of third party influence on closed country at all exaggerating. Under pressure from the West, which included severe economic sanctions, South Africa has not given up nuclear weapons, but only camouflaged its work in this direction. Survival in which ran from 1966, the war in the Caplin and the hard confrontation with the ANC within the country were given much more incentives than abstractly humanistic requirements of the United States and Europe. And the sanctions of the then – very-poor – South Africa only pinched.

Another lesson is that the planet will always be a good friend who fills your shoulder. For example, when the same international community has imposed associated with the nuclear program of sanctions on Pakistan, Saudi Arabia launched a free supply of 50 thousand tons of oil daily. And no one do anything about it could not – neither the CIA nor the UN. It is possible that this “friend” for South Africa was Israel, although now, of course, is not recognized.

The refusal by South Africa of nuclear weapons was possible only as a result of scrapping its internal system. What role in this process was played by external factors, including sanctions and diplomatic pressure, another conversation. But definitely, that induce to the abandonment of programs that seem vital, cannot alone outside pressure, including military. The story of the rise and collapse of the South African nuclear project is not only a story of espionage or science, but also an instructive example of the futility of such pressure.

Retrospectively in South Africa argue that if the US or Europe offered Pretoria in the 70’s in exchange for the abandonment of nuclear weapons some kind of alternative to the border security and public order, all could go under other scenario.

Another thing is that the credibility of Washington in Pretoria was not the same family of the Oppenheimers was much easier to establish relations with Israel than with the Americans. Especially Oppenheimer senior during the Second world war, for fear of falling prices, refused the U.S. government in the supply of industrial diamonds, and was included in the lists of banned and the activities of De Beers in the country was curtailed as “inconsistent with the Antimonopoly legislation”.

Nevertheless, the war in Angola and the Kaplin was the only one of the hottest parts of the global cold war, which isolated South Africa waged alone. With one hand, the US pushed Pretoria to continue this war, the other put pressure on the white government for humanitarian reasons. It’s a split personality to bring to the good could not, but it’s not clear that it would turn out, hold out South Africa at the front a couple of years (for example, knocked out the Soviet troops from Cuito Carnival). Then, suddenly, the Soviet Union would have collapsed, therefore, would cease military makeup of Angola, Cuba and the ANC, and the apartheid and Bantustans was to reform much more pretty than what happened to a prosperous country in 1990-ies.


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