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Nuclear Strategy in the Modern EraRegional Powers and International Conflict$
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Vipin Narang

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691159829

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691159829.001.0001

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South Africa

South Africa

(p.207) Chapter Eight South Africa
Nuclear Strategy in the Modern Era

Vipin Narang

Princeton University Press

This chapter traces South Africa's nuclear posture—how it intended to operationalize and use its six nuclear devices—and explores the sources of that particular strategy. Since 1978, in a very explicit strategy statement outlined by Prime Minister P. W. Botha who held the reins of the South African program for its duration, South Africa clearly envisioned and operationalized a catalytic nuclear posture designed to draw in Western—particularly American—assistance in the event of an overwhelming Soviet or Cuban-backed conventional threat to South Africa through Angola, Namibia, or Mozambique. Given the risk of additional sanctions and isolation if South Africa became an open nuclear power, optimization theory predicts that South Africa would adopt a catalytic posture if it believed it could successfully compel the United States to intervene on its behalf in the face of a severe threat.

Keywords:   South Africa, catalytic nuclear posture, Western assistance, open nuclear power, conventional threats

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