Posts Tagged ‘Warfare’

When you think of nuclear weapons, you probably think of America, Russia, China or Iran. But you might be shocked to discover that South Africa had its very own secret nuclear programme that was developed during apartheid.

While sources disagree about the exact date that the Apartheid Government initiated their nuclear arms programme, many believe that the decision “develop a limited nuclear deterrent capabilities” can be traced back to as as early as 1974.

In order to achieve this goal, the government stepped up the production at their uranium enrichment plant at Valindaba, known as the “Y-plant”. Numerous nuclear tests were also performed at the Somerset West explosives installation near Cape Town.
While the Apartheid Government’s activities during the 70’s were mainly secret, their actions did alarm leaders in the Soviet Union and the U.S. The Soviets allegedly considered a pre-emptive strike on the Y-plant, an option that U.S. officials reportedly rejected.
In 1977, South Africa successfully managed first full-scale nuclear explosive device based on a gun-type design.

According to reports, a U.S. Vela surveillance satellite detected a distinct light event off of Africa’s southern coast in 1979. U.S. officials believed that the source of the light was a nuclear test performed by the Apartheid Government, producing an intense double flash of light. The Apartheid Government denied all knowledge of the event. Later, representatives from the government stated that South Africa could not have been responsible for the double flash as it did not possess a complete nuclear device until November 1979.

According to reports, the Apartheid Government managed to produce a total of six nuclear devices by the 1980’s. The Apartheid Government was able to do so by mastering the uranium production and enrichment process in order to develop a complete nuclear fuel cycle with advanced waste management techniques.

But while South Africa was able to produce a number of nuclear weapons, by the late 1980’s, the Apartheid Government was facing incredible political pressure, both locally and abroad.

One of the government’s strongest bargaining chips was the ability to negotiate with regards to their nuclear weapons programme. Under great international pressure, South Africa begun nuclear disarmament in 1989.

What happened to all of South Africa’s nuclear scientists? Where did they go and what have they been doing for the past twenty years? Some might be driven by money, some by ideology…but it’s hard to imagine that they have been sitting around twiddling their thumbs…There must be plenty of rouge nations or extremist groups that would the skills that only nuclear scientists could provide. Could nuclear experiments still be secretly going on in South Africa?

What do you think?

For a more detailed overview of South Africa’s secret nuclear history, click here

For more information about the South Africa’s disarmament process, click here

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The aim of Project Coast was to covertly research and develop technology in the sensitive areas of chemical and biological warfare.

In order to achieve this aim, the South African government recruited Wouter Basson, a man who has since earned the nickname “Dr Death” due to his involvement in Project Coast.

In 1981, Basson embarked on a fact finding mission and travelled abroad to secretly collect information about the Chemical and Biological Weapons programs of various Western nations. Basson used what he found during these trips to develop a blueprint for the Apartheid Government’s Chemical and Biological Warefare program.

The majority of details about Basson’s involvement in Project Coast only came to light during his criminal trial, which began in 1997 after Basson refused amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

During his criminal trial, Basson faced a range of charges, including the accusation of taking part in over 200 murders and drug trafficking.

According to a recent article, Johan Theron, a subordinate of Basson, testified about the following event that took place in 1983:

Theron, then a soldier in the South African Defense Force, was ordered by Basson to chain three black ANC anti-apartheid activists to some trees in a secluded forest and cover their bodies with a toxic chemical jelly to see if the jelly would kill them.

When the jelly did not kill the three men, Basson allegedly ordered Theron and another soldier to inject the three men with a deadly muscle relaxant. The injection caused their lungs to collapse. They died slowly of suffocation, and later their bodies were loaded onto an airplane and dumped into the icy ocean off Namibia’s Skeleton Coast.

Basson has also been linked to a number of bizarre experiments.

According to the Mail and Guardian, Basson attempted to develop a genetically sensitive compound that would only affect Africans – a so called “black bomb”. According to other reports, Basson researched a race-specific bacterial weapon; a project to find ways to sterilize the country’s black population and deliberately planned to spread cholera through South Africa’s water supplies.

Basson’s regularly worked with a number of other biological agents and viruses including anthrax, cholera, salmonella, botulinum, thallium, E. coli, ricin, organophosphates, necrotizing fasciitis, hepatitis A, and HIV., as well as nerve gases (Sarin, VX) and the Ebola, Marburg, and Rift Valley hemorrhagic-fever viruses. These were used to produce crude toxins for use by the military and police as biological weapons.
There were reports that Basson was experimenting with chemicals to alter members of the population. But from the limited amount of information available from these reports, it is not clear what this means exactly.
The full extent of Basson’s Project Coast experiments were never made public, leaving South Africa to only guess about the true extent of the atrocities committed by the man we now call Dr Death.