South Africa’s secret nuclear weapons program started in the early 1970s under the apartheid regime. The regime’s decision to produce nuclear weapons was influenced by South Africa’s international isolation and the deteriorating security environment in the region during the 1970s.
South Africa mastered the complete nuclear fuel cycle and built a limited nuclear arsenal of six nuclear weapons that were allegedly never intended for actual use.
After the fall of the apartheid regime in the late 1980s, the new government decided to stop the production of nuclear weapons and dismantle the entire weapons program. South Africa acceded to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapon state in 1991 and entered into a safeguards agreement, including the Additional Protocol, with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) the same year.
In 1993, President F W de Klerk publicly announced the former existence of the program, its dismantlement and accession to the NPT. Since then, South Africa has actively participated in NPT meetings, and advocated nuclear disarmament as a member of the New Agenda Coalition (NAC) since 1998.