US, IAEA flayed for double standards

The United States and International Atomic Energy Agency have been accused of turning a blind eye to South Africa's nuclear programme.

Published: Saturday 15 May 1993

PRETORIA's disclosure of having produced and dismantled six nuclear devices has lent weight to allegations that the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) maintain double standards on nuclear non-proliferation.

In a recent televised speech to the South African parliament, President F W de Klerk disclosed his country had manufactured the nuclear weapons at the height of the Cold War, but was since adhering strictly to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) that it signed in 1991. A South African cabinet minister also disclosed recently that 29 kg of uranium had been released into the atmosphere in an accident at a nuclear plant on December 9, 1992.

These disclosures have prompted North Korea to criticise the US and the IAEA for their inability to check South Africa's nuclear weapons programme. North Korean officials even accused Washington of having transferred nuclear technology to South Africa and violating the NPT.

Pyongyang withdrew from the NPT in March, protesting the IAEA was biased in demanding special inspection of North Korean nuclear establishments. North Korean officials noted that even after 115 inspection visits to South Africa, the IAEA made no mention of Pretoria developing nuclear weapons.

US double standards with respect to Pretoria also lends credibility to the assertion that the Reagan administration had allowed Pakistan to secretly purchase goods to "neutralise" India's nuclear capability.

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