AUTHORPurkitt, Helen E. / Burgess, Stephen F.
TITLESouth Africa's Weapons of Mass Destruction
PUBLISHERIndiana University Press
CITYBloomington, IN

This book is a well documented study of South Africa’s covert development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the 1970s and 1980s and the country’s subsequent disarmament. It describes the development of nuclear weapons programs, and gives a history of Project Coast, the chemical and biological weapons program of the early 1980s. The authors, Helen Purkitt and Stephen Burgess, detail several factors that led to secret WMD programs, including the opposition to apartheid by the African National Congress of South Africa (ANC) and the potential need to defend the homeland, and they compare South Africa with other nations that developed secret WMD programs. The programs were followed by sudden disarmament in 1994 after F. W. de Klerk came to power; the book explains how and why South Africa became the first nation in the world to disarm its nuclear weapons and what that legacy means in a world in which bilateral conflicts have been replaced by threats of violence from individuals, small groups, and networks such as al-qaeda. An appendix provides policy lessons based on the South African case. At the time of publication, Purkitt was a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, and Burgess was an assistant professor at U.S. Air War College.

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