Sunday, May 23, 2010

Israel's offer to sell nuclear weapons to Apartheid South Africa

Putting this here mostly because I may want to look it up later. Yes, there is a fundamental similarity between creating an Afrikaaner, or Dutch state, in Southern Africa and creating a homeland for largely European Jews in the Middle East. Yes, Israel and Apartheid South Africa were allies because of the similarity of their national projects created a similarity in outlook or world-view. Yes, the best solution to the dispute over Zionism is the solution that was reached over the attempt to create a politically White South African state: the rejection and failure of that attempt in favor of a single state that is not tied to ethnicity.

But there is nothing new. This is just confirmation of what had already been well known before.
Secret South African documents reveal that Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime, providing the first official documentary evidence of the state's possession of nuclear weapons.

The "top secret" minutes of meetings between senior officials from the two countries in 1975 show that South Africa's defence minister, PW Botha, asked for the warheads and Shimon Peres, then Israel's defence minister and now its president, responded by offering them "in three sizes". The two men also signed a broad-ranging agreement governing military ties between the two countries that included a clause declaring that "the very existence of this agreement" was to remain secret.
The Israeli authorities tried to stop South Africa's post-apartheid government declassifying the documents at Polakow-Suransky's request and the revelations will be an embarrassment, particularly as this week's nuclear non-proliferation talks in New York focus on the Middle East.

They will also undermine Israel's attempts to suggest that, if it has nuclear weapons, it is a "responsible" power that would not misuse them, whereas countries such as Iran cannot be trusted.
South Africa eventually built its own nuclear bombs, albeit possibly with Israeli assistance. But the collaboration on military technology only grew over the following years. South Africa also provided much of the yellowcake uranium that Israel required to develop its weapons.

The documents confirm accounts by a former South African naval commander, Dieter Gerhardt – jailed in 1983 for spying for the Soviet Union. After his release with the collapse of apartheid, Gerhardt said there was an agreement between Israel and South Africa called Chalet which involved an offer by the Jewish state to arm eight Jericho missiles with "special warheads". Gerhardt said these were atomic bombs. But until now there has been no documentary evidence of the offer.
Israel pressured the present South African government not to declassify documents obtained by Polakow-Suransky. "The Israeli defence ministry tried to block my access to the Secment agreement on the grounds it was sensitive material, especially the signature and the date," he said. "The South Africans didn't seem to care; they blacked out a few lines and handed it over to me. The ANC government is not so worried about protecting the dirty laundry of the apartheid regime's old allies."


Anonymous said...

its now a done deal weather the zionist regeim as nukes or not and they do. should not iran have them too. lets level the playing field.

Sineva said...

Israel!?...a proliforator??..I`m shocked!..that it took this long for those suspicions to be confirmed,still it couldn`t have come out at a better time yet another nail in Israels credibility coffin regarding the nuclear issue,I wonder what they`ll do try and deny it or hope that the west will ignore it,still it is ironic all the time and money spent by the apartheid regime to obtain them and in the end nukes did nothing to save it or even prolong its existence one can only hope Israel will get exactly the same value for money with its nuclear arsenal,I guess only time will tell

lidia said...

Sineva, they deny it, of course. But it will NOT help them, of course.

masoud said...

Hi Arnold,

This might seem like a random thing to do, but Joshua Pollack at has declined to post my responses to his rejoinder to my initial comments on his outlandish South Africa Documents thread, and I've got nowhere else to park them, so I'm going to post them here. I hope that's alright with you.

The thread in question is here

First declined response
I think you can do better than that, Josh.

1. In the series of articles you cite Iran was the supposed client state receiving arms from AQ Khan. Over here Israel is the one making 'special warheads' available to the Apartheid South African Regime. So the two stories are much less alike than meets the eye.

2. Credibility: You can't compare a set of official papers that document discussions of sales of nuclear warheads to what some journalist says he's read in what he claim he believes to be authentic diaries of a person known to be a chronic nuclear proliferater and bald face liar.(especially when such claims sound like so many other unfounded claims, that pop up every couple of months that conveniently advance the prospects of war between the US and Iran, not to mention their portrayal of the proliferating party in a positive light so as to advance his legal prospects)

Looking back at the links, you seem to have taken the claims Khan seriously, or at least maintained they were plausible, while Jeff rightly dismissed them. But this is red herring because that story was rightly dismissed by many because it just didn't seem credible(as Jeff points out, the story seemed absolutely ridiculous). On the other hand no one believes that the current batch of declassified documents are forgeries, or are in any other way tampered with. However you seem to be advancing the argument, and correct if I'm wrong here, that yeah, the documents may be real, but it's nothing to get worked up about, because some of those documents were drafted using circuitous language. And further Mr. Cohen is somehow able to segway the discussion into arguing Israel is responsible and has a proven track record of doing the right-thing, and what a shame it is that they are not doing it openly. I think I asked a valid question; if the situation was flipped so that these documents implicated Iran selling 'special payloads' to a war-torn Islamist nation, instead of implicating Israel selling 'special payloads' to an untenable Apartheid nation, with all other details being kept the same, would you even begin to consider advancing these types of arguments?

3. I only mentioned Shamakhahi, because I think he was the minister of defense at the time the Islamic Courts were in power in Somalia. No connection with the previously mentioned AQ Khan story was intended.

Now I think the question I raised is important, because if it is actually your and Mr. Cohen position that these documents are not such a big deal after all, then you would have now way of understanding, for example, how this timely declassification was likely meant as a tactic to isolate Israel at the ongoing NPT review conference, which I think would be an unfortunate position to be in. I mean is the US even going to take the baby step of asking it's 'special partner' to clairfy the issues presented by these documents, the way it asks other countries to 'clarify' wildest unsourced rumors? If the US isn't able to see itself and it's actions as the world sees it, it's non-proliferation diplomacy is going nowhere fast.


masoud said...

Second declined comment
Lastly, let me give you some friendly encouragement to avoid loaded phrases and words like “apartheid,” “rogue,” and “illicit.” Too much reliance on epithets is the opposite of journalistic detachment; it appeals to the gut, not to the forebrain.

Having said all that, most people in the West and Middle East — Arabs and Israelis alike — do find Iran’s nuclear ambitions particularly threatening. Perhaps it has to do with the overall conduct of Iranian foreign policy. Now, you can agree or disagree with that perception, but it’s something that the U.S., as the guarantor of security to most countries in these regions, cannot ignore.
-Also Josh

So, are we still being scholarly and journalistic? If so, we should point out that while most Israeli's are indeed paranoid about an Iranian bomb, most other people aren't. Now what we do know is that American politicians--usually unnamed and on the condition of anonymity, put it to journalists that such and such puppet Arab government expressly and repeatedly explains to them they are worried to death about the possibility of an Iranian bomb, but are perfectly sanguine about an actual Israeli. Sometimes this fiction is harder to maintain, like it has been this entire month with Egypt as the president of the NAM leading the charge to disarm Israel. As for what most Arab people think of Iran's nuclear program, I believe public opinion polls pretty much put their opinion's pretty much in line with the stated position of 118 NAM states and the 57 OIC states--that is, they support it. So I think we have to an area other than the US' self appointed position as the guarantor of security in the middle east to explain the US' position on Iran's nuclear program.

We can leave the issue of what most of the world thinks about Israel, by virtue of it's material and ideological ties to some other states(that may or many not still be around), to a day when were not being so prim and proper.


lidia said...

Masoud, good job. Maybe you could ask Arnold to be published here as a guest wrtiter. I could only add about Zionists' paranoia - they do NOT believe that Iran would bomb them without provocation, they are simply scaring the West. What they are really afraid of, as Arnold said many times - it is of non-scared Iran.

Sineva said...

I agree 100% with your points Masoud,it seems that mr pollack is guilty of exactly the same double standards that we see applied to iran,ie they have to prove their innocence to our satisfaction while israels innocence is beyond question,don`t you just love good ol` western hypocrisy??,you at least did get some of your comments posted tho` guess they didn`t like mine although all I said was fundamentally the same as you lets judge israel by the same standards we apply to iran.Anther thing that got me was his talk of loaded phrases that sounds like good old PC or intellectual fascism[to use a "loaded phrase"] it would have been bad enough for israel to offer nukes to any nation but to offer them to one with the track record of aparthied sa is beyond irresponsible its criminal in my humble opinion.In short I can`t help but feel that sadly mr pollack is a beliver in some being more equal than others

Anonymous said...

Lidia & Sineva,

Thanks for the encouragement. I don't actually know what Josh's deal is. He definitely doesn't seem to have a solid grasp of technical issues involved, and he does seem to be the only commentator on that blog who is intensley ideological. The others have severe biases, but are certainly more academic and factual in their approaches. Josh seems oddly out of place. I could see him censoring me outright, but publishing the post, posting a rebuttal and then censoring me seems particularly, well, low. I can't imagine many people buy what he's peddling in any case. As for your suggesiton lidia, i'd be flattered if asked Arnold me to guestpost on this blog, but i think he kind of considers this a semi private space to organize and record his own thoughts. Which is fine by me, he's doing a greatjob of things as it is.


Arnold Evans said...

Masoud, when I have time I want to write about guest posts. You, Lidia and several other people who I see here and in other comment sections and who share some of my views, if you ever want, are more than welcome to submit posts on anything you consider worthy of a post, even if I don't fully agree with it.

I'll put that idea itself into a post later. If you want to make either or both of these stand alone articles, I'll gladly put them where other people can comment on them directly, and we can choose a nice image for them.

lidia said...

Arnold, thank you very much for your kind invitation. Maybe I use it sometime.