Historical Highlights of the Rise and Demise of South Africa’s Nuclear Capability
AbstractThe rise of apartheid in South Africa coincided with a rapid development of
nuclear energy and military technology despite the gross domestic product’s (GDP) decline from the 1982 peak value of about US$87 billion.1 The economic growth during this period was constrained by international sanctions against the regime. Under democratic rule when the worth of the national economy is of the order of a US$1 trillion and the GDP at US$286 billion in 2010,2 the tide of the erosion of the nuclear technology that was induced
prior to the demise of apartheid has yet to be turned. This overview highlights
South African nuclear developments, attempts to explain the contrast between
the historical and current political forces behind them and raises the need to heed some of the lessons that have been learnt.