South Africa’s SAFARI From nuclear weapons to nuclear medicine

  • J van Wyk


Since the verifi cation of the termination of its nuclear weapons programme and the dismantling of its nuclear devices and facilities, South Africa has succeeded in converting its defensive nuclear posture to the employment of nuclear energy for peaceful uses, such as power generation and nuclear medicine. In respect of the latter, South Africa has skilfully crafted a global niche for itself. Building on its nuclear expertise, South Africa has become one of the world’s leading producers of medical isotopes – an under-researched area in South Africa’s nuclear and economic diplomacy – which are used in a variety of medical diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Moreover, South Africa has succeeded in producing these isotopes from  low-enriched, rather than highly enriched uranium; adding further credence to its nuclear non-proliferation commitments. By converting its nuclear  reactor, SAFARI-1, to produce and supply medical isotopes, South Africa has gained numerous  material and non-material gains, ranging from foreign exchange to status and prestige.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1995-641X
print ISSN: 0256-2804