63. Memorandum From Michael A. Guhin of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Proposed Nuclear Fuel Agreement with South Africa

Ted Curran (State Secretariat) has written you regarding State/AEC plans to begin negotiations with South Africa on a 30-year agreement to sell nuclear fuel enrichment services for two power reactors in South Africa: one to be completed in 1978, the other several years later (Tab A).2

We already provide relatively small amounts of enriched uranium for a South African research reactor. This agreement elicited only moderate domestic and international criticism when, in 1967, it was extended for ten years. The power agreement would involve about 20,000 kg. [We have agreements with about 19 countries to provide nuclear fuel for research and power reactors, ranging from 500 kg (Argentina) to 335,000 kg (Japan).]3

State notes several factors supporting an agreement with South Africa including (1) our announced policy that we are prepared to enter into new agreements; (2) our effort to establish the US as a reliable supplier not overly susceptible to political considerations; (3) the foreign exchange benefit to the US of about $250M over the 30 years; (4) South Africa’s adherence to non-proliferation safeguards on its exports of uranium to other countries; (5) South Africa’s acceptance of International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards; (6) the mutually beneficial cooperation between the US and South Africa in the nuclear energy field; and (7) the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy’s informal indications of its support for such an agreement.

State also notes that if South Africa builds several more plants before the year 2000 as planned and uses US-type reactors, Ex-Im Bank policy guidelines toward South Africa may have to be reviewed. At present, however, indications are that South Africa considers financing no problem.

[Page 159]

On the negative side, State notes that there is a likelihood of some adverse domestic and international criticism of an agreement with South Africa because of (1) its apartheid policy, (2) the possible military applications of the technology and materials involved, (3) the long-term nature of the commitment, and (4) the fact that South Africa has not signed the NPT.

We agree with State that the factors supporting such an agreement clearly outweigh the political disadvantages.

Marshall Wright concurs.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 744, Country Files, Africa, South Africa, Vol. I. Confidential. Sent for information. Sent through Walsh. A stamped notation on the first page reads: “HAK has seen.”
  2. Dated November 15, attached but not printed.
  3. Brackets are in the original.