Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Israeli president denies offering nuclear weapons to apartheid South Africa.

Shimon Peres has denied that he ever offered to sell nuclear weapons to South Africa, but it's the way in which he has chosen to deny it which I find amusing.

"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," it said.
If Israel was engaged in secret negotiations with South Africa there would, of course, be "no Israeli document or Israeli signature on a document" to prove that these negotiations took place.

Secret negotiations are designed not to leave paper trails. It's done with a nod and a wink, there is rarely an overt paper trail.

But Sasha Polakow-Suransky, the American academic who uncovered the documents while researching a book on the military and political relationship between the two countries, said the denials were disingenuous, because the minutes of meetings Peres held with the then South African defence minister, PW Botha, show that the apartheid government believed an explicit offer to provide nuclear warheads had been made.

Polakow-Suransky noted that Peres did not deny attending the meetings at which the purchase of Israeli weapons systems, including ballistic missiles, was discussed. "Peres participated in high level discussions with the South African defence minister and led the South Africans to believe that an offer of nuclear Jerichos was on the table," he said. "It's clear from the documentary record that the South Africans perceived that an explicit offer was on the table. Four days later Peres signed a secrecy agreement with PW Botha."

While Peres's office said there are no documents with his signature on that mention nuclear weapons, his signature does appear with Botha's on an agreement governing the broad conduct of the military relationship, including a commitment to keep it secret.

The very fact that Peres was insisting that these dealings be kept utterly secret reveals the sensitivity of what was being discussed. Now, that doesn't prove that nuclear weapons were being offered, but it does suggest that a overt paper trail for these negotiations is highly unlikely.

Although, there are records of things which make one's eyebrows raise:

Polakow-Suransky said the minutes record that at the meeting in Zurich on 4 June 1975, Botha asked Peres about obtaining Jericho missiles, codenamed Chalet, with nuclear warheads.

"Minister Botha expressed interest in a limited number of units of Chalet subject to the correct payload being available," the minutes said. The document then records that: "Minister Peres said that the correct payload was available in three sizes".

The use of a euphemism, the "correct payload", reflects Israeli sensitivity over the nuclear issue. Armstrong's memorandum makes clear the South Africans were interested in the Jericho missiles solely as a means of delivering nuclear weapons.

The use of euphemisms in a document that otherwise speaks openly about conventional weapons systems also points to the discussion of nuclear weapons.

Why are they speaking in euphemisms if they have nothing to hide? They discuss conventional weapons openly, so what is this "correct payload" which they allude to?

But Peres is, no doubt, confident that no-one can ever find any document which proves that he made an offer of nuclear weapons. That, in itself, is hardly surprising though. After all, the Israelis were insisting on utter secrecy.

But, from the documents released by South Africa, it is quite clear that the South Africans thought nuclear weapons were on offer. And, even though the documents speak in euphemisms, we should remember that we are only seeing these documents because the Apartheid regime collapsed.

Click here for full article.

1 comment:

Dark Daughta said...

I still find it interesting that in this day and age, understanding all that we do about state craft and the machinations of the minions of high level heads of state, that anyone actually believes politicians who are clearly without scruples when they deny their participation in any offensive behaviour. Why do they even bother? They're all so dirty.