On 25th February, 2019, South Africa became a disarmament champion after ratification of the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons(TPNW) in United Nations headquarters, New York. South Africa’s ratification is particularly unique because it was once a developer of nuclear arsenals but now it has become an advocate against weapons of mass destruction. In mid 20th century , South Africa had interest in atomic energy being a uranium-rich country. It received its first nuclear reactor from the US and build its first nuclear explosive in 1982. In 1989, the government officially ended the nuclear program. The ratification of TPNW comes after South Africa joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty a non-nuclear weapon state in 1991.
Former President of South Africa , Nelson Mandela in the 1998, during the UN General Assembly mentioned “We must ask the question, which might sound naive to those who have elaborated sophisticated arguments to justify their refusal to eliminate these terrible and terrifying weapons of mass destruction – why do they need them anyway!
In reality, no rational answer can be advanced to explain in a satisfactory manner what, in the end, is the consequence of Cold War inertia and an attachment to the use of the threat of brute force, to assert the primacy of some States over others.”
Together with other African countries, South Africa has become a champion for nuclear weapon disarmament in Africa .
As IPPNW Africa, we celebrate the ratification of TPNW by South Africa and being an inspiration to not only African countries but to the world at large. Activism of South Africa in realizing a nuclear-weapon free world is an example worth emulating.