While a headline in Ha Aretz
reads "Israel denies offering nuclear weapons to apartheid South Africa" above an article that goes on to say that Israel vehemently rejects claims in a that it offered to sell nuclear warheads to Apartheid-era South Africa in 1975, the UK-based paper The Guardian
has published a hitherto secret but now declassified document showing that South African officials asked for nuclear warheads and Tel Aviv promised to sell them to the regime.
According to the Guardian report, then South African Defense Minister Pieter Willem Botha held a clandestine meeting with Shimon Peres, who served as Israel's defense minister at the time. Interestingly enough, while the Guardian reprints an image of the document clearly showing the signature of Perez, a government source quotes by Ha Aretz says "There exists no Israeli document or Israeli signature on a document that such negotiations took place."
The document in question had been declassified and released by South African authorities on behalf of an American academic, Sasha Polakow-Suransky, who was doing research for a book. Although Israel had pressured the present South African government not to declassify the papers, the SA government seems not to have understood Israel's concerns, which is why we now know that we know.
These documents do verify previous accounts by a former South African naval commander, Dieter Gerhardt â€“ jailed in 1983 - as well as the revelations about an Israeli nuclear program by Mordechai Vanunu in 1986. Like this time, Israel always denies ... but there's hardly anyone who is still fooled
One will perhaps have to wait until Sasha Polakow-Suransky does publish his book The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's secret alliance with apartheid South Africa
, which may have more information and/or more documents to make the case for Israel being a player even more obvious.