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Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons
Hardly news in these circles, but interesting to see irrefutable public confirmation:

Quote:Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons

Exclusive: Secret apartheid-era papers give first official evidence of Israeli nuclear weapons

Chris McGreal in Washington, Sunday 23 May 2010 21.00 BST

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 documents, uncovered by an American academic, Sasha Polakow-Suransky, in research for a book on the close relationship between the two countries, provide evidence that Israel has nuclear weapons despite its policy of "ambiguity" in neither confirming nor denying their existence.

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 African documents show that the apartheid-era military wanted the missiles as a deterrent and for potential strikes against neighbouring states.

The documents show both sides met on 31 March 1975. Polakow-Suransky writes in his book published in the US this week, The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's secret alliance with apartheid South Africa. At the talks Israeli officials "formally offered to sell South Africa some of the nuclear-capable Jericho missiles in its arsenal".

Among those attending the meeting was the South African military chief of staff, Lieutenant General RF Armstrong. He immediately drew up a memo in which he laid out the benefits of South Africa obtaining the Jericho missiles but only if they were fitted with nuclear weapons.

The memo, marked "top secret" and dated the same day as the meeting with the Israelis, has previously been revealed but its context was not fully understood because it was not known to be directly linked to the Israeli offer on the same day and that it was the basis for a direct request to Israel. In it, Armstrong writes: "In considering the merits of a weapon system such as the one being offered, certain assumptions have been made: a) That the missiles will be armed with nuclear warheads manufactured in RSA (Republic of South Africa) or acquired elsewhere."

But South Africa was years from being able to build atomic weapons. A little more than two months later, on 4 June, Peres and Botha met in Zurich. By then the Jericho project had the codename Chalet.

The top secret minutes of the meeting record that: "Minister Botha expressed interest in a limited number of units of Chalet subject to the correct payload being available." The document then records: "Minister Peres said the correct payload was available in three sizes. Minister Botha expressed his appreciation and said that he would ask for advice." The "three sizes" are believed to refer to the conventional, chemical and nuclear weapons.

The use of a euphemism, the "correct payload", reflects Israeli sensitivity over the nuclear issue and would not have been used had it been referring to conventional weapons. It can also only have meant nuclear warheads as Armstrong's memorandum makes clear South Africa was interested in the Jericho missiles solely as a means of delivering nuclear weapons.

In addition, the only payload the South Africans would have needed to obtain from Israel was nuclear. The South Africans were capable of putting together other warheads.

Botha did not go ahead with the deal in part because of the cost. In addition, any deal would have to have had final approval by Israel's prime minister and it is uncertain it would have been forthcoming.

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.

Some weeks before Peres made his offer of nuclear warheads to Botha, the two defence ministers signed a covert agreement governing the military alliance known as Secment. It was so secret that it included a denial of its own existence: "It is hereby expressly agreed that the very existence of this agreement... shall be secret and shall not be disclosed by either party".

The agreement also said that neither party could unilaterally renounce it.

The existence of Israel's nuclear weapons programme was revealed by Mordechai Vanunu to the Sunday Times in 1986. He provided photographs taken inside the Dimona nuclear site and gave detailed descriptions of the processes involved in producing part of the nuclear material but provided no written documentation.

Documents seized by Iranian students from the US embassy in Tehran after the 1979 revolution revealed the Shah expressed an interest to Israel in developing nuclear arms. But the South African documents offer confirmation Israel was in a position to arm Jericho missiles with nuclear warheads.

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."
"There are three sorts of conspiracy: by the people who complain, by the people who write, by the people who take action. There is nothing to fear from the first group, the two others are more dangerous; but the police have to be part of all three,"

Joseph Fouche
The author of the piece below is a veteran Foreign Office cypher:

Quote:Israel's nuclear weapons: the end to nods, winks and blind eyes

Continuing official ambiguity served a useful purpose. Now the veil has been torn aside

Simon Tisdall, Sunday 23 May 2010 21.00 BST

Israel has long been assumed to possess nuclear weapons. The fact Israel's leaders routinely refused to discuss it did not diminish the certainty with which this conviction was held by the country's Arab neighbours, nor their strong objections to it. But continuing official ambiguity served a useful purpose in that neither side was forced to confront the issue full on. Now the veil has been torn aside.

Proof that Israel is, without any doubt, a nuclear weapons state, means an end to nods, winks and blind eyes. It confirms Israel as the Middle East's premier armed power. And it challenges all the countries of the region, including Iran, to address, separately or jointly, the threat inherent in the resulting, now undeniable military imbalance.

Iran appears to have already made its choice. It is widely believed to be working hard to catch up with Israel, developing nuclear expertise and enriching uranium to levels inconsistent with purely civilian uses. Tehran will interpret the latest disclosures as proof of a double standard maintained by the US and some western countries – and a vindication of its assertion of its "nuclear rights". It may become even harder to obtain international support for implementing proposed new nuclear-related sanctions on Iran.

Many Arab states worry more about Iran than Israel. In a sort of nuclear chain reaction, states such as Qatar have begun their own civilian nuclear programmes with US backing and know-how, which could have military applications down the road. Others, such as Saudi Arabia, are said to be looking at the options. Syria is suspected of having co-operated with North Korea on obtaining nuclear capabilities, a claim denied. But all Arab countries face strong US pressure to eschew a dangerous and expensive Middle East nuclear arms race – a spectre long portrayed as a prelude to Armageddon. Many, notably the largest, Egypt, appear to be sincere in voluntarily forgoing them. What they want are concrete results arising principally from Barack Obama's effort to make nuclear counter-proliferation a top global priority. From their perspective, this means first and foremost dealing with Israel ‑ and thereby potentially defusing the Iran problem.

In his Prague speech last year, Obama held out the prospect of a nuclear weapons-free world and then agreed significant warhead stockpile reductions with Russia. At this month's nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) review conference in New York, the US supports, in theory at least, Egyptian-and Turkish-led efforts to create a Middle Eastern nuclear weapons-free zone. But diplomats warned last week that the conference could collapse under the weight of its own contradictions unless there was a concrete agreement on the issue – including from Israel.

The pressure on Israel from Obama, and on Obama from the Arab countries, to end perceived double standards and take substantive steps to advance counter-proliferation goals is likely to increase. It doesn't help that the relationship between the US president and the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, is adversarial, soured by Jewish settlement activity in the occupied territories and an impasse in the peace process. It doesn't help that Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and his regime cronies continue to threaten Israel's existence. In such a hostile environment Israel is unlikely to make concessions that could impair its security. This has been at the heart of the problem since the Jewish state was founded.

Unhelpful too, in the nuclear context, is the west's apparent hypocrisy over India and Pakistan, two other nuclear-armed countries that have not signed the NPT and show no sign of doing so. Meanwhile, in the background, as ever, lurks North Korea's dangerously unstable dictatorship, manufacturing atomic bombs, selling technological know-how to the highest bidder, and last week again threatening South Korea with annihilation. North Korea is the ultimate nightmare of a world where counter-proliferations fails. The US appears powerless to deal with it.

Intellectually speaking, Obama understands the scale of the task. Visiting the West Point military academy, he spoke of the necessity for the US to build up old and new alliances, not least to curb the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Unlike his predecessor, he stressed the value of multilateralism and engagement in a globalised world. But the contrast between these lofty sentiments and his dismissive response to last week's uranium enrichment "swap" deal with Iran, brokered by Turkey and Brazil, was jarring. Two important and friendly emerging superpowers delivered an agreement with Tehran that the west had proposed but failed to clinch. Obama's patronising attitude caused anger and did little to embellish his leadership credentials.

The confirmation of Israel's arsenal will further complicate these urgent political and policy issues. The big question is how hard Obama is prepared to push Israel to climb aboard his counter-proliferation bandwagon before the wheels fall off.
"There are three sorts of conspiracy: by the people who complain, by the people who write, by the people who take action. There is nothing to fear from the first group, the two others are more dangerous; but the police have to be part of all three,"

Joseph Fouche
Quote: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".
Then said "Would you like fries with that?"
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
Ha ha Magda! I was thinking three sizes: 10 kiloton yield standard uranium, higher-yield standard plutonium and thermonuclear fusion hydrogen bomb. Of course he didn't mean conventional bombs as 2 out of 3 flavours.

Good stuff, Paul, thanks for posting it. I can't help remembering the merlin html document at cryptome which seems to hint at Iran being set up as nuclear contender. Also, UAE has some light water reactor project going with the USA.

One question on just how secret Secment was. I was jsut browsing through the latest issue of Jewish Currents out of NYC and there's a South African Jewish memoir in there that mentions Union SA and Israeli troops in active collaboration and it doesn't sound like it was a secret at the time. Is Secment strictly Chalet-type nuclear deals then?

Also, when the ANC coalition took power they signed onto NNPT as a NON-nuclear power with the provisio two or three neighboring states (Zambia and Zaire iirc, maybe another) did the same. It sounds like SA had the goods and shelved them for whatever reason (prior to democratic black majority rule, probably the explanation in itself) and the post-apartheid politicians went along with it out of some distaste for nuclear power-politics, basically becoming the first nuclear power to renounce nuclear weapons. Or were they sold a bill of goods and acted in good faith, i.e. perhaps they were tricked into signing on as a non-power in order to set some precedent?

Thanks again.
Paul Rigby Wrote:The author of the piece below is a veteran Foreign Office cypher:

Quote:Israel's nuclear weapons: the end to nods, winks and blind eyes

Continuing official ambiguity served a useful purpose. Now the veil has been torn aside

Simon Tisdall, Sunday 23 May 2010 21.00 BST

To the Editor, The Daily Coalitionistgraph, May 23, 2010

Quote:Dear Sir,

Your editorial, Grauniad-Round Table Humbug and the Hebrew Love-Bomb, constitutes an island of sanity in an ocean of Foreign Office Arabist propaganda. Let me plant a palm tree of perspective upon it, based upon my extensive knowledge of the key negotiators and their principles, as buttressed by various incomprehensible briefings courtesy of man with a speech impediment from the Israeli embassy, not to mention a large brown envelope bearing the happy title, “BBC Expenses.”

The chief South African negotiator was not a miserable Kraut Communist, as the FO’s Anzanian glove-puppets would have it, but rather Wing Commander “Buffy” Van der Kaffirbasher, a distinguished officer of impeccably humanitarian impulses. (In 1945, let it be noted, he rescued me from a crowd of baying Transvaal savages at a nocturnal Afrikaner political rally, where I had been mistakenly apprehended for possession of an unconvincing wig, and, er, a small incendiary device disguised as a lump of biltong.) If such a man did indeed plan to irradiate huge numbers of blecks - and his signed confession to that effect is by no means the last word on the subject - it was undoubtedly for good and sound reasons of national security, most likely corporate America’s.

His Semite counterpart, Gideon “the Strangler” Dombrowski, was no less a man of the highest ethical standards, not least in his little-documented negotiations with various flotsam and jetsam from the Austrian water-colourist’s leather-clad inner-circle. Despite recognising me as the British intelligence officer who had ordered a couple of Mosley’s finest to dunk him repeatedly in a capacious vat of goat excrement following the ritual disembowelment of an unimportant Mancunian soldier in Haifa in March 1947, the ever-affable “Strangler” gave me a comprehensive tour of the Coca-Cola bottling facility at Dimona in August 1963, where I chanced to met this harmless soft-drink enterprise’s lyric caretaker, Bartleby Angleton, reading selections from T.S. Eliot to a rapt audience of Mossad’s finest. Has there ever been a more felicitous union of Nuclear Power and Poetry?

By far the most important lesson of this entire tawdry episode, however, concerns the declining standard of British journalism. For this I lay unqualified blame on Bill Haley and his threepenny daily worker comets, who began the gross misrepresentation of Dimona in the winter of 1960 by regurgitating, doubtless at the instigation of the Arabist Communist Philby, a Moscow-radio Arab language broadcast to the effect that Langley and the Pentagon had turned over the bomb to Tel Aviv. Has any single piece of British “reportage” been so mercilessly exposed as rot and nonsense by the passage of time? I think not.

"There are three sorts of conspiracy: by the people who complain, by the people who write, by the people who take action. There is nothing to fear from the first group, the two others are more dangerous; but the police have to be part of all three,"

Joseph Fouche

...for a really good account of the Isreal - S.A. alliance [including Nukes!]

focus on the Middle East this week, we turn to new revelations about Israel’s nuclear weapons program and its close alliance with apartheid South Africa.

Israeli President Shimon Peres has denied reports that he offered to sell nuclear weapons to apartheid South Africa when he was defense minister in the '70s. On Sunday, the Guardian newspaper of London published top-secret South African documents revealing that a secret meeting between then-defense minister Shimon Peres and his South African counterpart, P.W. Botha, ended with an offer by Peres for the sale of warheads, quote, "in three sizes." The documents provide the first official written evidence that Israel has nuclear weapons, despite its policy of "ambiguity" in neither confirming nor denying their existence.

But the Israeli president's office has categorically rejected the accusations in the report and released a statement saying, quote, “Israel has never negotiated the exchange of nuclear weapons with South Africa. There exists no Israeli document or Israeli signature on a document that such negotiations took place."

Well, the documents published in the Guardian were first uncovered by senior editor at Foreign Affairs, Sasha Polakow-Suransky. He went through 7,000 pages of never-before-seen classified South African documents while researching his new book The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa.

For more on this story, we’re joined by Sasha himself. Sasha Polakow-Suransky joins us here.

Welcome to Democracy Now!

SASHA POLAKOW-SURANSKY: Hi. Thanks for having me.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about these documents.

SASHA POLAKOW-SURANSKY: Well, there are four key documents involved in the Guardian story, and let me explain just a little bit about what each says.

The first is minutes from a meeting between high-level defense officials from Israel and South Africa on March 31st, 1975, during which they discuss several things, including the possible transfer of Jericho missiles. And they use vague language to discuss warheads in three different sizes. Now, the Israeli government is denying that its signature or any Israeli signature is on that first document. This is actually true. It’s minutes from a meeting between high-level officials.

However, the second document, the same day, from the chief of staff of the South African Defense Force, he sends a memo to his superiors talking about how wonderful Jericho missiles armed with nuclear warheads would be for South Africa’s defense strategy. And if you look through the archives, as I did, it’s the first time that you actually see this issue discussed. And it happens to occur on the same day.

Then, four days later, Shimon Peres and P.W. Botha sign a secrecy agreement governing all transactions in the military sphere between the two countries. Shimon Peres’s signature is on that document, dated April 3rd, 1975.

And finally, if you follow the story on through the late '70s and the early ’80s, you see that South Africa was only ever interested in Jericho missiles if they had a nuclear warhead on them. Various documents later on, as the two countries continued to cooperate in the sphere of medium-range missiles, show that South Africa only thought it was economical and useful for their defense force if these missiles were armed with nuclear warheads.

So, you put this all together the way that any journalist or any historian would, and it's very difficult to come to any other conclusion. It is an interpretation, but based on these four documents, you connect the dots, and it’s quite clear that the South Africans perceived that there was a nuclear offer on the table. As I say in the book and as the Guardian says, this deal never went through. However, the offer was perceived to be on the table, and the South Africans took it seriously enough to write a memo to the top officials in the military arguing how nuclear-armed Jerichos could help them.

AMY GOODMAN: And why didn’t the deal go through?

SASHA POLAKOW-SURANSKY: Well, there are various reasons, Amy. The South Africans thought that it was prohibitively expensive. And you have to remember they were also developing their own nuclear weapons program at this time. They were just getting off the ground. The Israelis already had them. And the South Africans thought, perhaps we can do this on our own without spending this sort of money on it.

And what’s interesting about the Guardian revelations is this is really just the tip of the iceberg. It’s not necessarily what I would have chosen as the most stunning revelation in this book, because what happened afterwards is there were deals that did go through. This one didn’t go through. But throughout the late '70s and the mid-1980s, these two countries were cooperating in South Africa on building missile technology that the South Africans intended to use for a second generation of their nuclear weapons. I have documents from 1984 from the South African Defense Force talking about how they have to go to Israel and meet all of the Israelis who are about to move down to South Africa and work on the missile testing range, because the Israelis had greater expertise in the field of rocketry, and these Israelis all needed cover stories. And so, the document from 1984 instructs South African officials to go and interview all of them and make sure that their cover stories are intact, so when a bunch of Israelis show up in a small seaside town in the middle of nowhere in South Africa, they have an excuse for being there.

AMY GOODMAN: What about the secret meeting in Switzerland in 1975?

SASHA POLAKOW-SURANSKY: So, on June 4th, 1975, a couple of months after the first documents that we discussed a minute ago, Peres and P.W. Botha meet in Switzerland, and they continue to discuss the same deal and, again, use vague language, such as "the proper payload," "warheads in three different sizes." This was always coded in these meetings. This is how people talk about such matters. It's when you connect the dots to other documents—and in the case of the first one, written on the same day—that you see the pattern and you see that the South Africans certainly thought that there was an offer on the table.

The question of whether Peres had authorization from Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is an interesting one. Peres has a long history as a foreign policy freelancer. He built Israel’s relationship with France in the 1950s, which was crucial for Israel’s own nuclear weapons program. And Peres did a lot of this behind the scenes as a mid-level official in the Defense Ministry, and he did not have the authorization of the Foreign Ministry or of his superiors. And so, this may be another instance of Peres acting on his own. But the key point is that the South Africans took it seriously. They perceived the offer as on the table. And that is what Peres has not responded to yet.

AMY GOODMAN: South Africa providing Israel with yellowcake uranium?

SASHA POLAKOW-SURANSKY: OK, well, another revelation in the book that the Guardian didn’t pick up on. Let me explain this one. It’s a little bit more complicated, but basically South Africa began to supply Israel with yellowcake uranium in 1961. South Africa has a great deal of natural resources, including uranium, and Israel needed it. It started in small amounts, and the shipments went to Israel. They were protected under bilateral safeguards, so not IAEA-style safeguards like we see today. This was an agreement between the two countries that the uranium would only be used for peaceful purposes. Between 1961 and 1976, the stockpile built up in Israel to about 500 tons of uranium.

The first part of this story is actually covered in Seymour Hersh’s book The Samson Option. What I do in this book is take it further. What happened in 1976 is the head of Israel’s scientific intelligence agency, called Lekem, its Hebrew acronym, he contacted the prime minister of South Africa and said, essentially, "We need this." And the South African prime minister—

AMY GOODMAN: He was...?

SASHA POLAKOW-SURANSKY: John Vorster—went to his minister of mines, Fanie Botha, and instructed him to release the safeguards on the uranium. Now, there was a controversy within the nuclear science community in South Africa, because many people saw this as a blatant act of proliferation and aiding the nuclear program of another country. However, the minister of mines flies to Israel in July 1976. This is just a few months after Vorster himself visits Israel.

And the Israeli government, in the last few days, has responded to my allegations, saying, "We do not see any documents on Israeli letterhead." I have documents on Israeli Ministry of Defense letterhead showing the itinerary of Fanie Botha in Israel in July 1976. Not only did he meet with Shimon Peres, he met with Prime Minister Rabin, the head of Israel’s nuclear research community, and various other top generals in the military. The press passed it off as a discussion over new mining ventures. But people discussing new mining ventures don’t meet with the prime minister and the defense minister.

AMY GOODMAN: And talk about the significance of Vorster.

SASHA POLAKOW-SURANSKY: Well, the significance of it is, is that Israel needed raw materials for its nuclear reactor at Dimona, and it had brought uranium in from Europe in the 1960s, but it was having trouble getting these resources. And South Africa had a lot of it, and a lot of it was already in Israel.

So what I did is I went to Fanie Botha a few years ago, when I was in South Africa, and I interviewed him about this. And I’d actually like to read to you his quotation, which confirms that he lifted the safeguards and that the Israeli government had wanted to use this. He was well into his eighties at the time, and he told me that his counterparts in Israel thought that the safeguarded yellowcake could be very useful to them. And I quote, "I didn’t sell it to them. I didn’t give it to them. But when I became minister, they had it. They couldn’t use it unless South Africa lifted them, the safeguards, so that’s what I did."

And then I asked him, "Do you feel that you may have been aiding the nuclear program of another country, perhaps furthering nuclear proliferation?" And his response was, "We worked together for some years. It was easy for friends to cooperate in this field."

AMY GOODMAN: And again, this was—the quote was of...?

SASHA POLAKOW-SURANSKY: Fanie Botha, the South African minister of mines in the mid-1970s. All of this came out in an in-camera trial that was kept classified in South Africa for many years. This leaked, and the transcript of the trial and the judge’s own description of what took place in the proceedings, which involved many top officials, including future president F.W. de Klerk, reveals what I just read to you, the basic outline of the case, and that the Israeli government had been funneling money to Fanie Botha in order to keep him in office until this deal went through. They wanted to keep him in his position as minister of mines, because they knew he was sympathetic to Israel, and they were afraid that this deal might not go through. The trial records, interviews with lawyers involved in the trial and the judge’s own judgment confirm that, through a middleman, the Israeli government funneled money to a South African government official in order to ensure that this deal went through.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Sasha Polakow-Suransky, senior editor at Foreign Affairs. His book is called The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa. You write, "Israel tested its own weapons and helped South Africa build highly advanced nuclear weapons delivery systems, long-range missiles, throughout the ’80s, at a secret South African testing range where hundreds of Israelis were employed."

SASHA POLAKOW-SURANSKY: Yes. That’s what I was describing earlier with this 1984 document. This lasted almost up until the transition to democracy in South Africa. As late as 1989, the two countries were still cooperating in this field.

And interestingly, it was George H.W. Bush who started to crack down and eventually put an end to it. What happened in 1989 is Soviet and US satellites picked up images of missiles being launched off the coast of South Africa, from this testing range I described earlier. And the plume, the exhaust trail from these missiles, matched the Israeli Jericho exactly. So CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency documents that have been declassified in Washington reveal that everyone in the US intelligence community immediately saw this as a signature of an Israeli system or a technology that had been transferred to South Africa or that there had been such close cooperation that the technology was essentially identical.

And so, at this point, Bush 41 reprimands Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, because this is two years after Israel has imposed its own sanctions against South Africa. Israel had vowed to sign no new arms contracts in 1987 after the US government passed sanctions against South Africa and threatened to cut off military aid to any other country in the world that continued to sell arms to South Africa. Two years later, missiles are being launched off of the South African coast that look identical to Israeli missiles.

And so, after 1989 and this discovery, the relationship begins to wind down. And by the time the transition begins in South Africa and Nelson Mandela is released from prison and eventually becomes president in 1994, you see everything slowly disappear. And by 1994, there are no longer high-level military delegations going to Israel. The highest-level South African delegation at that point is the boxing team, and they’re going on a tour of Israel.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the Israeli generals, the relationship being so close that they would take South Africans to the front lines of the Lebanon war in 1982, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

SASHA POLAKOW-SURANSKY: That’s correct. That’s correct. The South African General Constant Viljoen did travel into Lebanon with Israeli officials at that time. According to the documents in my possession, he did so before even Americans were invited by the Israelis to observe what the South Africans did.

The other thing worth noting is that Constant Viljoen also went to the Occupied Territories in 1977, and he marveled at the Israeli checkpoint system and, quite frankly, was jealous of it. And he wrote in a report to the South African defense minister, "The thoroughness with which Israel conducts this examination is astonishing. At the quickest, it takes individual Arabs that come through there about one-and-a-half hours. When the traffic is heavy, it takes from four to five hours." And this was part of a document admiring Israel’s internal security apparatus.

AMY GOODMAN: You have an interesting aspect of this story, which is the ADL in the United States, the anti-discrimination committee. And we only have a minute to go.


AMY GOODMAN: Then we’re going to post the rest of the interview on the website. What about the American—the Anti-Defamation League?

SASHA POLAKOW-SURANSKY: Well, essentially, during the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Anti-Defamation League employed a man named Roy Bullock, who was also on the payroll of South African intelligence. And this man was acting on behalf of South African intelligence and the ADL to infiltrate anti-apartheid groups in the Bay Area. And FBI files investigating the espionage involved came out later confirming that he was essentially providing the same information to both the ADL and the South African government intelligence services, because they were concerned that the anti-apartheid movement in the US was becoming very strong, and the Israelis and pro-Israel organizations in the US were afraid that this was tarnishing Israel’s international image.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, we only have fifteen seconds, but this history that was going on between Israel and South Africa, this relationship supporting the South African apartheid regime?

SASHA POLAKOW-SURANSKY: Yes, it was vital. And I would argue that it prolonged the life of the apartheid regime in South Africa. It was a vital link.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to leave it there, Sasha Polakow-Suransky—we’ll continue at—senior editor at Foreign Affairs, his new book, The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
CIA evidence of an Israeli nuclear test

David Lowry asks (Letters, 11 August) whether Israel has carried out a nuclear weapon test. Although there is no conclusive answer, he is not correct to say that there is no public information. Since 2004, the CIA report on the double flash detected by a US Vela satellite on 22 September 1979, originating in the south Atlantic, has been declassified, albeit heavily redacted. The purpose of the Vela satellites was to detect atmospheric nuclear tests, and the double flash is characteristic of nuclear explosions.
According to the report: "In September 1979 some special security measures were put into effect which indicate that certain elements of the South African navy were exercising or on alert. The harbour and naval base at Simonstown were declared on 23 August to be off limits for the period 17-23 September … Also, the Saldanha naval facility was suddenly placed on alert for the period 21-23 September."
A clandestine nuclear test by Israel would have been useful. According to the report: "The Israelis might have conceivably foreseen needs for more advanced weapons, such as low-yield nuclear weapons that could be used on the battlefield. Or they might have considered desirable a small tactical nuclear warhead for Israel's short-range Lance surface-to-surface missiles. Israeli strategists might even have been interested in developing the fission trigger for a thermonuclear weapon. If they were to have developed reliable nuclear devices for any of these weapons without access to tested designs, moreover, Israeli nuclear weapons designers would probably have wanted to test prototypes."
Taken with your coverage of Israeli-South African military collaboration during the 1970s (24 May), the evidence for an Israeli test is strong, if not conclusive.
Emeritus professor Norman Dombey
University of Sussex
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.

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