STRICT EMBARGO: 16:45 ON 24 MARCH 1993
CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
EXTRACT FROM SPEECH BY THE STATE PRESIDENT,
MR F W DE KLERK, TO A JOINT SESSION OF PARLIAMENT, 24 MARCH 1993
Mr Speaker, when I decided last week to call a joint session, it was my intention to concentrate on the announcement to Parliament of important information with regard to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and related matters. Since then certain developments have compelled me to cover a wider area. I am, however, still commencing with announcements relating to South Africa’s nuclear capability.
The Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and related matters
Honourable Members will recall that when I delivered my first opening address on 2 February 1990, I emphasised, among other things, the normalisation of South Africa’s international relations. An important aspect of this was, and is, the significant contribution that South Africa can and will have to make towards peace, stability and progress in Southern Africa. With this objective in mind the Government has – in addition to many other initiatives in a variety of other spheres – taken far-reaching and drastic decisions with regard to the non-proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction. This includes nuclear, as well as chemical and biological weapons.
The Government acceded to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) on 10 July 1991. We became a founder signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction on 14 January 1993. It is also participating in the current review of the convention on Biological and Toxin Weapons.
I wish to concentrate today on the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and would like to convey important information to Parliament, the public and the international community. It is important that the integrity of the Republic of South Africa with regard to its commitments to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty should be placed above any doubt.
When a country accedes to the NPT, it undertakes, as from the date of accession, not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons. It also undertakes to enter into a Safeguards Agreement, in terms of which a comprehensive inventory of all the nuclear material and nuclear facilities as they exist for the country as a whole at the time that agreement enters into force, be submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Such facilities and material are then subject to international inspection and verification. The IAEA also conducts regular inspections to verify the inventory and to ensure that these materials and facilities are used for peaceful purposes only.
Since its accession to the NPT, South Africa has strictly adhered to the conditions of the NPT and has maintained a policy of transparency and professional co-operation with the IAEA. This positive approach has led to South Africa’s resuming its seat at the IAEA general assembly, since September 1991, without opposition, after an absence of 12 years.
The process of verifying the completeness of South Africa’s declaration of nuclear materials and facilities has proceeded so successfully that the IAEA was in the position to report to the Board of Governors in September 1992, after a large number of IAEA inspections, that nothing had been found to suggest that South Africa’s inventory of nuclear materials and facilities was not complete, nor was there anything to suggest that the list of facilities and materials submitted for controls were incomplete.
However, mainly because of the events in Iraq, which violated the conditions of the NPT by launching a clandestine nuclear weapons programme, certain countries have called the effectiveness of the IAEA verification regime into question. Some countries have also alleged that South Africa still has covert aspirations in this regard and that it has not fully disclosed its stockpile of enriched uranium.
Such allegations are regularly taken up by both the local and the international press, and are beginning to take on the dimensions of a campaign. South Africa’s present nuclear programme which is directed toward commercialisation, including the export of high technology products, is in the process placed under suspicion and is harmed. Our country cannot afford this. Accordingly, I wish today to confirm unequivocally that South Africa is adhering strictly to the requirements of the NPT and that it will continue to do so.
I would, however, like to go further. Any doubt about the Government’s intentions with regard to nuclear matters must, for once and all, be removed. For this reason the Government has decided to provide full information on South Africa’s past nuclear programme, despite the fact that the NPT does not require this.
At one stage South Africa did, indeed, develop a limited nuclear deterrent capability.
The decision to develop this limited capability was taken as early as 1974, against the background of a Soviet expansionist threat in Southern Africa, as well as prevailing uncertainty concerning the designs of the Warsaw Pact members.
The build up of the Cuban forces in Angola from 1975 onwards reinforced the perception that a deterrent was necessary – as did South Africa’s relative international isolation and the fact that it could not rely on outside assistance, should it be attacked.
Details relating to the limited deterrent capability, and the strategy in this regard, which were at that time developed, are as follows:
The objective was the provision of seven nuclear fission devices, which was considered the minimum for testing purposes and for the maintenance thereafter of credible deterrent capability.
When the decision was taken to terminate the program, only six devices had been completed.
No advanced nuclear explosives, such as thermo-nuclear explosives, were manufactured.
The programme was under the direct control of the Head of Government, who decided that it should be managed and implemented by Armscor.
Knowledge of the existence of the programme was limited to a number of Ministers on a “need-to-know” basis.
The strategy was that, if the situation in Southern Africa were to deteriorate seriously, a confidential indication of the deterrent capability, would be given to one or more of the major powers, for example the United Sates, in an attempt to persuade them to intervene.
It was never the intention to use the devices and from the outset the emphasis was on deterrence.
This was the situation when I became State President in 1989. As a former Minister of the AEC I was also informed about this.
On my assumption of office as State President it was already evident to me, and also to my colleagues who were also informed, that it was in our national interest that a total reverse – also in respect of our nuclear policy – was called for.
During 1989, the global political situation changed dramatically:
– A cease-fire in Angola was agreed.
– On 22 December 1988, a tripartite agreement was signed at the United Nations with Cuba and Angola which provided for the independence of Namibia and the withdrawal of 50 000 Cuban troops from Angola.
– The Cold War had come to an end and developments leading to the destruction of the Berlin Wall and the break-up of the Soviet-bloc had become the order of the day.
– The prospect of moving away from a confrontational relationship with the international community in general, and with our neighbours in Africa in particular, to one of co-operation and development, were good.
In these circumstances a nuclear deterrent had become, not only superfluous, but in fact, an obstacle to the development of South Africa’s international relations.
World opinion had also become increasingly opposed to nuclear weapons, and significant advantages for South Africa could be forthcoming should it accede to the NPT. Although it already had an advanced nuclear technology base and nuclear industry, accession would facilitate the international exchanges of the new technology for its future development. It could also be of benefit to our neighbouring states and in due course to Africa as a whole.
Within this factual framework, and with consideration to all of the other innovative policy objectives which by then had already begun to take on form, it was decided, toward the end of 1989, that the pilot enrichment plant at Pelindaba should be closed and decommissioned.
Early in 1990 final effect was given to decisions that:
all the nuclear devices should be dismantled and destroyed;
all the nuclear material in Armscor’s possession be recast and returned to the AEC where it should be stored according to internationally accepted measures;
Armscor’s facilities should be decontaminated and be used only for non-nuclear commercial purposes;
after which South Africa should accede to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, thereby submitting all its nuclear materials and facilities to international safeguards.
The implementation of these decisions and instructions proceeded according to plan. The process of dismantling took place under the strict, joint control of the AEC and Armscor. As a further control measure, an eminent professor of nuclear physics, prof W L Mouton, was appointed as independent auditor to oversee the process and to report directly to me. It was his task to satisfy himself that every gram of nuclear material had been accounted for and that all the hardware and design information was destroyed. This has been done.
South Africa acceded to the Non-proliferation Treaty on 10 July 1991 and signed, according to the requirements of the Treaty, a Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA on 16 September 1991 with immediate force and effect.
On 30 October 1991, in accordance with the Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, South Africa submitted a complete inventory of all nuclear materials and facilities under its jurisdiction which contained such materials on 30 September 1991, since which date all such materials and facilities are subject to international safeguards.
South Africa’s hands are clean and we are concealing nothing. Permission has now been granted by the Government, with a view to international inspection, for full access to the facilities and the records of facilities, which in the past were used for the preparation of a nuclear deterrent capability.
I sincerely trust that this unprecedented act, namely the voluntary dismantling of a nuclear deterrent capability, and the voluntary revelation of all relevant information will confirm this Government’s effort to assure transparency. I trust also that South Africa’s initiative will inspire other countries to take the same steps.
In conclusion I wish to emphasise that at no time did South Africa acquire nuclear weapons technology or materials from another country, nor has it provided any to any other country, or co-operated with another country in this regard. Our expertise, technology and nuclear materials were fully protected and dealt with strictly according to international standards and agreements. South Africa has never conducted a clandestine nuclear test.
There may be a perception that the decision to abandon the programme means that the investment in the whole enterprise had been wasted. This is not the case.
The enrichment technology developed by the AEC, as well as the nuclear materials which were produced, constitute an important asset for South Africa. They will contribute significantly to the ultimate success of the AEC’s peaceful commercialisation programme.
The operation of the pilot enrichment plant allowed South Africa to continue operation of the AEC’s research reactor, which is also used for the production of radioactive isotopes for medical purposes, during a period when the international community refused to provide nuclear fuel for its operation.
The nuclear material that was used for the devices has been recovered and will be used to enlarge the production of these and other isotopes. SAFARI-1 is amongst the very few reactors which can meet this need.
Furthermore, the application of the enrichment technology to the establishment of the semi-commercial enrichment plant provided South Africa with the ability to provide all the nuclear fuel requirements of the Koeberg nuclear power station, and to guarantee this supply at a time when the delivery of nuclear fuel for Koeberg from overseas was denied.
In addition to this, South Africa’s accession to the NPT has already led to the lifting of nuclear sanctions by the United States of America. Exchanges of visits with states in Africa have also taken place with a view to agreements on the use of medical isotopes and training programmes. We have become a member of the African Regional Co-operative Agreement (AFRA), an organisation within the IAEA which co-ordinates peaceful nuclear projects and co-operation between African States in the nuclear field.
The prospects for further co-operation will be enhanced by the establishment of a nuclear weapons free zone in Africa. The Government has already publicly committed itself to this, and believes that it can make a significant contribution to the establishment of peace and security in Southern Africa.
South Africa will soon be taking an active part in the trans-continental discussions on this all-important issue. We will be supported by the fact that South Africa acquired a nuclear capability, and, in recognition of its new relationship with Africa and the broader international community, abandoned it.
Without accession to the NPT none of this would have been possible. I trust that the book on this chapter of the past can now be closed, and that a new one of international co-operation and trust can now be opened.
Violence and negotiations
While our country’s international relationships are looking bright, the same could not be said of the internal situation. This does not mean that there have not been several positive and hopeful developments in South Africa. We have a lot to be grateful for.
Unfortunately these positive factors, which include the resumption of multiparty negotiation, are overshadowed by a continuous wave of crime and violence. It has been aggravated by the recent hideous and senseless murders of children and commuters, especially in Natal and the Transvaal.
This rightly aroused feelings of intense indignation, shock and anger on the part of most South Africans. The same goes for the international community.
Without denying the seriousness and tragedy of all other fatalities as a result of political violence, we recall the following:
* The tragic death of six schoolchildren and the wounding of a seventh in the Table Mountain area near Pietermaritzburg at the beginning of March 1993, where defenceless children were murdered in an ambush on their way to school.
* The similar cold-blooded attack on March 19, 1993 at Eikenhof, near Johannesburg, during which two children and their mother were shot dead.
* The so-called revenge incidents where a child was cold-bloodedly wounded in a shooting incident at Nigel and a black man died in a similar incident at Stilfontein.
Add to these numerous other examples including the incident during which ten people were shot dead in an attack on a minibus taxi in the Table Mountain area, as well as the attack on a bus on its way to Pietermaritzburg which claimed the lives of 4 people, and the extent and seriousness of the situation become even more clear.
Our sincere sympathy and condolences go to the next-of-kin of all who died in the violence and in particular to the families of the innocent children who were so cruelly murdered. There can be no excuse for these murders. It is barbaric and totally unacceptable in a civilised society.
An analysis of these events brings two other aspects to the fore. First, it accentuates the potential for polarisation between the various population groups in our country. Secondly, circumstances point to various militant organisations probably being responsible. APLA, indeed, stands out on account of reported acceptance of responsibility for a number of incidents of terrorism and the arrogant way in which APLA continues to advocate and promote political violence. However, the fact is that some of the children were also murdered by members of other politically militant organisations.
Another aspect which comes to the fore is that some political spokesmen and commentators accuse the Government of applying double standards; that it reacts and acts stronger and more aggressively in cases of the murdering of White people and children than in the case of Black people. I reject this insinuation and accusation. The Police act in every case in accordance with uniform norms and the surrounding circumstances determine which course of action is possible or appropriate.
In the case of the murder of Black children in Natal the Police acted extremely effectively and strongly and they succeeded in bringing the murderers to book expeditiously. The deployment of security forces in combating political violence and the focus by the Police on protection and security in areas mainly inhabited by Black South Africans, equally prove the falseness of this insinuation.
Allegations of this nature bring grist to the mill of all those who want to increase racial tension in South Africa and play in the hands of radicalists and perpetrators of violence. At all costs we should guard against a new spiral of violence based on violence being repaid with further violence.
Having said that, however, I wish to stress that the public standpoints of the PAC and its military wing, APLA indeed deserve special attention. The PAC cannot escape the direct relationship between itself and APLA. Its own statements in this regard in themselves are proof of that relationship. Similarly, all information at the disposal of the Government points to a direct relationship between the leadership of the PAC and APLA and the Government holds the PAC accountable for everything that APLA does. The refusal by the PAC to distance itself from APLA statements and deeds and its dualistic commitment to a peaceful process, as well as its refusal to sign the Peace Accord, constitute a serious obstacle in multiparty negotiations.
The same applies to other participants who have not signed the Peace Accord.
The Government’s point of view, therefore, is that it has now become vitally important that the multiparty negotiation process should now as a first priority focus on the ending of violence. All participants must be included in and bounded to the peaceful process. Military wings, private armies and militant sub-organisations must be effectively and visibly brought into and tied to abandoning all unlawful activities.
The Government is not considering the disruption of the negotiation process, but will insist that these matters first be solved in a satisfactory way. No party can in a credible way remain part of the peace and negotiation process while organisations under its control continue perpetrating violence and breaking the law with the party’s explicit or tacit approval.
Present circumstances demand measures, not only on the negotiation front but also in other areas. The most obvious is intensified Police and Security Force actions.
Several steps in this regard have already been taken following my announcement during the Opening of Parliament. These are all summarised in a ten point plan which the South African Police will review and explain within days. Furthermore, I want to announce that 12 unidentified members of APLA have been arrested in the past 24 hours and are detained with a view to interrogation. More arrests will follow.
I also want to announce that the Government has decided on an extensive plan of action aimed at stabilising all areas in the country identified as problem areas. As an element of surprise is important to attain success, full particulars cannot be revealed. The implementation of this plan will require a fairly drastic increase in the manpower levels of the security forces for a period. As a result, the Defence Force will on an urgent basis send out calling-up instructions on a fairly wide front.
Apart from the planned direct security actions, the Government also regards the measuring out of penalties as important in combating the violence and crime. In this regard the death penalty is an important subject.
With the Opening of Parliament on January 29, 1993 I already indicated that the Government was re-considering its position with regard to the death penalty.
The Government is convinced that the present policy – to retain the death penalty – is both morally and legally correct and properly carry into effect the State’s duty to protect the interests of its citizens. The Government also remains of the opinion that this protection mechanism should be included into a bill of fundamental rights.
To judge the issue of the death penalty on the basis of constitutional principles as proposed by the South African Law Commission, is a valid option which should be properly considered.
In view of the progress already made regarding the acceptance of a bill of fundamental rights, the Government has regarded it as just and necessary to suspend the carrying out of the death penalty for a reasonal period, pending the result of the discussions on an interim bill of fundamental rights to be implemented in the transition phase.
At the Opening of Parliament on January 29, 1993 I pointed out that the wave of cruel murder and homicide, the current disrespect for human life and the delays in the negotiation process, are making it extremely difficult for the Government to let the moratorium continue indefinitely. It was therefore announced that the Government will re-consider its position on the carrying out of the death penalty and will consult Parliament in this process.
The Government has decided to approach Parliament at the first possible appropriate occasion, on the basis of a motion, to give all members the opportunity to indicate their viewpoints in a vote at the end of the debate. At the same time I want to announce in my capacity as Leaders of the National Party that all honourable members of the National Party will be allowed to take part in such a vote on a free basis, everyone according to his individual conviction. The Government will at the same time launch an intensive process of consultation if leaders of extra-Parliamentary parties and organisations.
In conclusion, I want to return to APLA.
A report has been released today of the Commission of Inquiry concerning the Prevention of Public Violence and Intimidation (the Goldstone Commission) on the basis of a report of a committee of the commission conducting a preliminary investigation into the activities of APLA. I don’t want to deal with the details of the report in its full details. The Government largely accepts the recommendations contained therein.
With regard to Transkei, the committee has made the following preliminary findings:-
– “APLA is using Transkei as a launching pad for attacks in the Republic of South Africa. Arms and ammunition are being stored in Transkei for the use of APLA units. The presence of APLA members in Transkei is known to members of the Transkei Police.
– “The Transkei Government has provided APLA with arms, allegedly for VIP protection purposes.
– “APLA members receive training in Transkei.
– “Arms and explosives are being smuggled into the Republic of South Africa and Transkei for the use of APLA members.
– “APLA’s internal supreme command, for the Republic is based in Transkei.”
As honourable members know the Committee has repeatedly extended public invitations to all parties to make submissions. In view of the serious allegations regarding the involvement of inter alia official Transkei institutions regarding APLA activities, the Chairman of the Committee issued an invitation to the Transkei Government in particularly to take part in the proceedings. The Transkei Government, after repeated requests, failed to participate.
The preliminary findings of the Committee which point to active involvement of official institutions of the Transkei in APLA actions in South Africa, are a source of serious concern. The Government and the Republic of South Africa regard this in an extremely serious light.
It has been decided that the reaction of the Transkei Government to the report will be urgently asked for, as requested by the Commission. It must be emphasised that it is no longer only the South African Government calling for the response of the Transkei Government but also the Commission itself.
Further steps by the Government will depend on the reaction of the Transkei Government.