14 January 2008

14 January 2008 - Kasrils calling for a nuclear South Africa?

Paul Moorcraft, in this morning's Business Day (South Africa):

"[A J] Venter also sheds new light on the extent of SA's post-apartheid deals in missile and nuclear technology. He makes the startling claim that SA, which dismantled its six nukes under international auspices, is considering renewing its nuclear arsenal. Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils, 'a card-carrying, outspokenly anti-Israel Jewish member of the South African Communist Party', in Venter's words, allegedly briefed his intelligence staff in Pretoria that a nuclear-armed SA would propel the country to the forefront of African politics and 'be able to look after itself in the event of serious trouble'.

In the apartheid era, SA adopted the Israeli nuclear-deterrent model of 'deliberate uncertainty' -- experts knew that Pretoria had the bomb, but nothing was confirmed. This time, African National Congress-ruled SA would go public."

Moorcraft adds the following interesting (plausible?) detail:

"Venter makes much, perhaps too much, of the alleged influence of senior Muslims in the ANC. Even more intriguing is Venter's information about rogue Israelis living in SA who helped the Iranian programme."

And he adds that SA is arming Hezbollah:

"Venter also outlines sophisticated conventional arms deliveries to some unsavoury states. He mentions, for example, the $2bn deal to supply Syria with updated tank-cannon stabilising equipment, which Washington had opposed. More recent evidence is South African night-vision goggles used by Hezbollah and captured by the Israelis during the 2006 war in Lebanon. Iran provided most of the backing for Hezbollah."

He concludes:

"Venter is an acknowledged expert on intelligence issues in SA, but perhaps he paints too stark a picture of an Iranian-South African axis. But there is no doubt that, as with the demise of the Soviet Union, the end of apartheid put a large number of top weapons experts out of work."

Perhaps we now know why Kasrils and other senior South African government officials have been visiting Iran in recent months...

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