Journal Article - Nonproliferation Review

Lessons learned from dismantlement of South Africa's biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons programs

| September 8, 2016

Abstract

South Africa had active nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons programs during the 1970s and 1980s. South Africa dismantled its nuclear weapon program prior to its 1991 accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Similarly, it terminated its chemical weapons program prior to its 1995 ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Only the dismantlement of Pretoria's nuclear weapons program was subjected to international verification—albeit ex post facto—following a 1993 decision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference to verify the correctness and completeness of South Africa's declarations under its NPT safeguards agreement. During the 1980s, South Africa also developed and purportedly used biological weapons, violating its obligations under the 1972 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction, which it had ratified in 1975. This article draws lessons from the verification of the dismantlement of these programs and makes recommendations for future verification work to confirm the elimination of weapons of mass destruction capabilities.

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For Academic Citation: Heinonen, Olli. Lessons learned from dismantlement of South Africa's biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons programs.” Nonproliferation Review, (September 8, 2016) .

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