We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

South Africa's Weapons of Mass Destruction

Helen E. Purkitt and Stephen F. Burgess

Publication Year: 2005

South Africa's Weapons of Mass Destruction offers an in-depth view of the secret development and voluntary disarmament of South Africa's nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons program, Project Coast. Helen E. Purkitt and Stephen F. Burgess explore how systems used for nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons in South Africa were acquired and established beyond the gaze of international and domestic political actors. On the basis of archival evidence from Project Coast and their own extensive interviews with military and political officials, Purkitt and Burgess consider what motivates countries to acquire and build such powerful weaponry and examine when and how decisions are made to dismantle a military arsenal voluntarily. Questions such as how to destroy weapons safely and keep them from reappearing on international markets are considered along with comparative strategies for successful disarmament in other nation-states.

Published by: Indiana University Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (25.9 KB)
pp. v

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (25.6 KB)
pp. vii

Many individuals and institutions on both sides of the Atlantic have provided invaluable help in completing this book. We gratefully acknowledge the time and cooperation of all who made this book possible. We also gratefully acknowledge the financial support necessary to make this book possible from the Institute of National Security Studies ...

read more

ONE. Introduction: The Ongoing Problem of South Africa’s Unconventional Weapons

pdf iconDownload PDF (49.1 KB)
pp. 1-6

In the 1970s and 1980s, apartheid South Africa secretly developed nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons of mass destruction (and several launch vehicles to deliver them).1 South Africa’s covert programs fit the pattern of states, mainly in the Middle East and Asia, which secretly developed weapons of mass destruction ...

read more

TWO. South Africa in a World of Proliferating Weapons

pdf iconDownload PDF (87.4 KB)
pp. 7-25

The world has lived with weapons of mass destruction for more than half a century. They remain a grave concern for humanity. Five states openly developed nuclear weapons in the 1940s and 1950s, and at least four more, including South Africa, developed them covertly in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.2 ...

read more

THREE. Origins and Evolution of Nuclear-Weapons Research and Development

pdf iconDownload PDF (129.3 KB)
pp. 26-57

South Africa is the only African country to have produced nuclear weapons. To understand why and how South Africa covertly pursued the development of nuclear, and later chemical and biological, covert weapons programs, one needs to appreciate three characteristics usually associated with crime: motive, opportunity, and means. ...

read more

FOUR. Warheads, Missiles, and Nuclear-Deterrence Strategy

pdf iconDownload PDF (113.8 KB)
pp. 58-84

This quotation from a top-secret memo written by the director of South Africa’s Arms Control Agency in 1975 highlights the fact that President F.W. de Klerk failed to disclose several details about the covert nuclear-weapons program in his March 1993 speech to Parliament. ...

read more

FIVE. Project Coast and Its Origins

pdf iconDownload PDF (288.0 KB)
pp. 85-118

South Africa’s chemical and biological warfare program, Project Coast, was a covert weapons of mass destruction program sponsored by the apartheid regime.While the evolution and dismantling of South Africa’s nuclear program has been widely discussed, detailed accounts of Project Coast programs ...

read more

SIX. Dismantling the Nuclear-Weapons Program

pdf iconDownload PDF (112.0 KB)
pp. 119-145

By 1989, a confluence of factors made the nuclear program less attractive to senior National Party politicians, top national-security officials, and senior military officials. Among military leaders, particularly among the highest echelons of the South African Air Force, there were growing concerns that the projected costs ...

read more

SEVEN. The Rollback of Project Coast

pdf iconDownload PDF (131.9 KB)
pp. 146-177

In 1988, as the pace of change accelerated in Southern Africa and South Africa, conditions for considering the rollback of Project Coast emerged. President P.W. Botha and the South African Defence Force realized that the Soviet Union was losing interest in Africa, the SADF was going to win the war against the Cuban expeditionary force in Angola, ...

read more

EIGHT. Disarmament Trendsetter

pdf iconDownload PDF (121.3 KB)
pp. 178-207

In the 1990s, the first nonracial democratic South African government, headed by Nelson Mandela, opted to become a disarmament and nonproliferation trendsetter. In less than five years, South Africa evolved from the security-obsessed regime of the 1980s to one that eliminated nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons ...

read more

NINE. Emerging Issues and Residual Concerns

pdf iconDownload PDF (74.9 KB)
pp. 208-222

Throughout this study, we identified unanswered questions about past covert weapons programs in South Africa. These questions are rarely discussed or analyzed in discussions of foreign-policy, national-security, nonproliferation, and counterproliferation problems. ...

read more

Appendix: Policy Lessons from the South African Case

pdf iconDownload PDF (64.8 KB)
pp. 223-236

South Africa’s past experiences with weapons of mass destruction and contemporary efforts by the South African government to monitor and control the proliferation of such weapons suggest some policy lessons that may be applicable to other countries. These are presented as a basis for further consideration ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (245.3 KB)
pp. 237-294


pdf iconDownload PDF (91.2 KB)
pp. 295-312


pdf iconDownload PDF (123.0 KB)
pp. 313-322

E-ISBN-13: 9780253003065
E-ISBN-10: 0253003067
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253345066

Page Count: 336
Illustrations: 1 figures, 1 bibliog., 1 index
Publication Year: 2005