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

The Guardian, Sunday 23 May 2010 

The secret military agreement signed by Shimon Peres, now president 
of Israel, and P W Botha of South Africa. 

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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    A spokeswoman for Peres today said 
    the report was baseless and there 
    were "never any negotiations" between 
    the two countries.  She did not 
    comment on  the authenticity of the 
    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.

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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 withthe Israelis, 
has previously been revealed but its context was not fullyunderstood because it was not 
known to be directly linked to the Israeli offeron 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 suchas the one being offered, certain assumptions have been made: 
a) That themissiles 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 inZurich. 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.

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    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 

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NOTE:  Date Of Document (22 November, 1974)
11 Years Exactly After Mossad (Jack Ruby) Assassination Of U.S. President
John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
MI5 \ MI6 Assassination Of J.F.K. And Robert Nesta Marley:

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.

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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."