South Africa is the only country which ever give up its nuclear dissuasion power.
But Why? Did they dismantle the country’s nuclear weapons because they believed in a vision of an Africa free of nuclear weapons, as the press reported?
The white apartheid regime didn’t want a Black Nation to possess nuclear weapon, a dissuasive power in our contemporary world.
Foreseeing a democratic South Africa where Black people will be in power, the white regime destroyed all the country’s main military facilities, ballistics missiles and dismantling all six complete nuclear weapons shortly after the release of Nelson Mandela from prison in 1990.
South Africa hastily joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and seven weeks later the country signed a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
According to Greg Mills “South African authorities co-operated fully with the IAEA during the whole verification process, and were commended by the then director-general of the Agency in 1992, Dr. Hans Blix, for providing inspectors with unlimited access and data beyond those required by the Safeguards Agreement“
In less than 3 years all South Africa’s ballistic missiles were scrapped, its six nuclear weapons dismantled, and any remaining missile engines destroyed.
To prevent any future attempt by any upcoming South African administration to empower the country, the apartheid regime enacted the most self-restricting legislation in the form of the “Act on the Non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction” that makes provision for a South African Council for Non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction to control exports of dual-use materials, equipment and technology.
While South African apartheid leaders’ actions were met with praise by the western medias and leaders, many saw this speedy destruction of all the country main military infrastructures as a sign that the racist apartheid regime and many western countries didn’t want the upcoming Black leaders to inherit such a powerful arsenal.
“The whole thing was dressed up as an honourable retreat from a nuclear Africa” said Frans Cronje, deputy CEO of the South African Institute of Race Relations, a Johannesburg-based think tank.
“A nuclear African state would be taken more seriously and would have a stronger leadership role – it forces people to take you seriously.
In leadership terms, renouncing nuclear weapons does the opposite – it reduces your influence in foreign affairs and international politics.
If renouncing nuclear weapons grows your influence, others would be falling over themselves to surrender their nuclear arsenals.” continued Frans Cronje
While a racist, violent, and brutal oppression white apartheid regime was trusted to have and manage nuclear weapons, a Black and democratically elected regime was not trusted to manage them.
That historic decision was all about racism. Nothing else.
South Africa would today be stronger on the international stage if it had retained a nuclear arsenal.