Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

South Africa Going Nuke Again?

Posted by K.E. White on April 8, 2007

No, this is not a return to a nuclear-weaponized South Africa.

South Africa

But South Africa may develop a new nuclear power facility.

This might not seem like big news, but what happens if South Africa—a leading member of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty—demands its own enrichment capability?

That’s unlikely: Any nuclear power expansion in South Africa will most likely be accepted and endorses by the international community.

But one thing is clear: how the major nuclear powers—Russia, America, and Germany in particular—deal with South Africa’s growing nuclear appetite will be watched closely by Iran and other potential nuclear aspirants.

Why the change? Russian interest in uranium. From Mining News Weekly in March:

There is huge interest from Russia in joint ventures with South African companies to mine uranium in South Africa and elsewhere in Africa. The recent agreement between South Africa’s Harmony Gold and Russia’s Renova Group looks like being only the first manifestation of this Russian interest. The outcome of the alignment between these two companies could be Renova buying Harmony’s uranium assets and Harmony buying Renova’s gold assets (these would be two separate deals). Both the South African and Russian governments have pledged to assist Harmony and Renova in the implementation of their agreement.

However, Renova is apparently also seeking other South African partners for uranium-mining joint ventures (JVs). South Africa’s Department of Minerals and Energy is, it seems, willing to draw up a list of local companies that could partner Renova, although the decision of which company or companies the Russians would chose would be made by Renova, on a business basis.


This minor development can even be seen as consistent with South Africa’s nuclear policies of the last two decades. From the Federation of American Scientists:

A primary goal of South Africa’s policy is to reinforce and promote the country’s image as a responsible producer, possessor and trader of advanced technologies in this field. In this connection, South Africa has obtained membership from two important non-proliferation regimes. The Nuclear Suppliers Group [NSG] was established in 1975 to minimise the risk of diversion of nuclear technology and to regulate nuclear technology transfers, control the export of nuclear material, equipment and technology and monitor the transfer of dual-use materials. South Africa became a member of the NSG on 5 April 1995. The Zangger Committee defines and monitors trade in goods and equipment especially designed for nuclear uses. South Africa became a member of the Committee on 21 October 1993.

But at a time when Iran is justifying its nuclear program with calls to nuclear-fairness, any nuclear deal (be it with India or South Africa) becomes significant. Can the NPT regime prove flexible enough to both 1) adequately address nations’ growing demands for nuclear energy while 2) stopping the spread of nuclear weapons?

One Response to “South Africa Going Nuke Again?”

  1. ali said

    I’m Ali
    and I’m from Turkey
    I’m studying at nuclear engineering at Hacettepe Universty.Could you give me some information about there such as can İ work there after my education?are there any engineer from Turkey?

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