The Only Country To Build Nuclear Weapons and Voluntarily Give Them Up | by Robert Howells | Feb, 2022
Nuclear proliferation is a hot-button topic worldwide. Nuclear weapons have an almost singular ability to destroy the world and all life upon it in a matter of minutes and as a result, there is great consternation about expanding the fraternity of nuclear-armed nations. This concern has led nations to bind themselves together to reduce the risk of nuclear winter by joining together in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). As the United Nations Office For Disarmament Affairs states,
“The NPT is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament. The Treaty represents the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon States.”
Its importance and reach are demonstrated by the fact that it has the most signatories of any arms control treaty in history. Many experts believe that the treaty has been enormously successful as there remain only nine nuclear-armed nations worldwide while the number was initially expected to rise much higher.
The success in that goal and the continued efforts to prevent “rogue” states from reaching nuclear weapons lead to the peculiar case of a nation who achieved nuclear weapons only to agree to voluntarily disarm.
Beginning in 1969, South Africa became interested in the use of high-powered nuclear explosives for peaceful purposes such as building a canal, harbors, generating electricity, wide-range fracking or even eventually possibly using it to power a spacecraft. These purposes lacked a military component and ironically, the United Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) was the foremost nation to use nuclear blasts for peaceful purposes. Additionally, South Africa benefited from the natural deposits of uranium they could utilize and they were motivated by a desire to secure their borders that never seemed to them to be fully secure.
South Africa, due to its racist policy of Apartheid, was a nation that was shunned by the global community. Therefore, they operated under us against the world mentality and were assisted in their goal for nuclear weapons by Israel, another nation that found itself surrounded by danger. Far from assuaging itself from its isolated status, its pursuit of nuclear weapons made itself an even greater pariah.
Facing this reality, President Botha explored the option of signing the NPT in 1987. The nation refused to do so, however, unless other regional powers also agreed to forgo their own construction efforts. Under pressure from both the United States and the U.S.S.R. the nearby nations of Zambia and Tanzania agreed to sign the treaty. In 1991, South Africa signed the treaty and agreed to open up all of their operations to international inspection to ensure that they were following all of the components and requirements of the treaty. In 1993, President de Klerk announced that South Africa had previously destroyed their nuclear weapon stockpiles.
Since their ratification of the treaty, South Africa has been a responsible atomic energy international partner. They are part of organizations that seek to safeguard and possess atomic material and were signatories of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. South Africa was also a part of the Treaty of Pelindaba of 2009 that labeled Africa as a nuclear weapons free territory. Thankfully, South Africa gave up their nuclear weapons in a peaceful step that helps all people to live in safety from nuclear holocaust.
Read More: The Only Country To Build Nuclear Weapons and Voluntarily Give Them Up | by Robert Howells | Feb, 2022