Australian news, and some related international items

FW de Klerk, who ended South African apartheid, leaves another legacy: nuclear disarmament

FW de Klerk, who ended South African apartheid, leaves another legacy: nuclear disarmament, Bulletin 

By Robin Ephraim Möser | November 12, 2021 Almost nothing suggested that former South African president Frederik Willem de Klerk would be the one to dismantle apartheid. He was born into a family of politicians of the nascent apartheid state, became a member of Parliament in 1972, and was complicit in—even supportive of—all the evil committed under apartheid during numerous ministerial posts. But while serving as president, de Klerk stunned the world in February 1990 when he removed the ban on opposition political movements, including the African National Congress, and released political prisoners, including the individual with whom he would later share the Nobel Peace Prize—Nelson Mandela.

De Klerk’s death at the age of 85 this week has been widely reported in the New York Times, the BBCder Spiegel, the Daily Maverick, and other international media. Yet none mention that, under his leadership in 1991, South Africa joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and fully dismantled the country’s nuclear weapons arsenal.

De Klerk believed that nuclear weapons, having lost their deterrence value following the end of the regional conflicts, would subsequently burden his government. Two weeks after assuming the presidency, he held a top-secret meeting of advisors in which he requested a plan to rid the country of nuclear weapons. Those who attended agreed, though some rather grudgingly, as he recounted in my 2017 interview with him………..

Almost three decades later, in my 2017 interview with him, de Klerk revealed that his distaste for nuclear weapons preceded his presidency. He had decided that if ever he became president, he would review South Africa’s nuclear weapons program. He had that chance by 1990—and seized the denuclearization opportunity.

De Klerk’s nuclear rollback was complete and verifiable. Not only was South Africa free of nuclear weapons, but the development served as a catalyst for Africa as a nuclear-weapon-free zone. In 1995, President Nelson Mandela and other African heads of state signed the Treaty of Pelindaba, which forbade atomic bomb testing and banned nuclear weapons from the African continent.

South Africa remains the only country to have gone full circle on nuclear weapons. The South African National Party politicians initiated a nuclear weapons program during the 1970s and de Klerk ended it in 1989. De Klerk expressed the hope that South Africa’s example might inspire the nine leaders of other nuclear weapons states—the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea—to eliminate their arsenals. The world can only hope that, over time, they do.

November 13, 2021 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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