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Military > WMD Stats: compare key data on South Africa & United States

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Definitions

  • Biological: A description of the nation's situation with regards to the possession and manufacture of biological weapons of mass destruction
  • Chemical: A description of the nation's situation with regards to the possession and manufacture of chemical weapons of mass destruction
  • Missile: A description of the nation's situation with regards to the possession and manufacture of missile weapons of mass destruction
  • Nuclear: A description of the nation's situation with regards to the possession and manufacture of nuclear weapons
  • Overview: An overview of the nation's situation with regards to the possession and manufacture of weapons of mass destruction
STAT South Africa United States
Biological South Africa’s biological weapons program was one of the two principal components of its covert state-sponsored CBW program, codenamed Project Coast (later Project Jota). Personnel associated with Coast have characterized it as the most sophisticated program of its type outside of the former Soviet Union, but international CBW experts generally consider it to have been considerably less advanced from a scientific standpoint. Although ostensibly created entirely for defensive purposes, since government and Cuban military forces in Angola were reportedly equipped for and planning to use—if not already using—CW agents against the South African Defence Force (SADF), from the outset the program also had offensive features and capabilities. The apartheid-era South African government viewed itself as the target of a “total onslaught” by Soviet-backed Marxist guerrillas or regimes in neighboring states and black nationalists at home, and to meet this all-encompassing “red-black danger” it was apparently willing to use almost any means at its disposal to defend itself. It was in this highly charged political and military context, which precipitated a “bunker” or “laager” mentality, that Coast was secretly initiated in 1981 under the aegis of the SADF Special Forces. The chief facility for researching, producing, and testing BW agents and lethal toxic chemicals was a military front company called Roodeplaat Research Laboratories, located north of Pretoria, and other facilities were established to develop protective clothing and manufacture exotic assassination devices. Project Officer Dr. Wouter Basson also set up an elaborate network of procurement and financial front companies overseas. During its existence Coast scientists tested or developed a wide range of harmful BW agents, including Bacillus anthracis, botulinum toxin, Vibrio cholerae, Clostridium perfringens, plague bacteria, and salmonella bacteria. Some of these pathogens were probably used to assassinate individual “enemies of the state,” and it is alleged that both anthrax bacteria and V. cholerae were each employed on at least one occasion to infect larger populations. The CBW program was officially dismantled in 1993, in the midst of a liberalizing transformation of the regime. There are indications, however, that certain personnel who were intimately involved in the program, including Basson, may have provided technical knowledge, equipment, or materials to “rogue regimes” such as Libya, to foreign intelligence personnel, to unscrupulous black marketers trafficking in dangerous weapons, and perhaps also—if certain journalists can be believed—to elements of a shadowy international network of right-wing extremists. These claims have yet to be fully investigated, much less verified. The extent to which various foreign governments, military establishments, and intelligence agencies secretly monitored or covertly assisted in the development of the program likewise remains an open question. The U.S. offensive biological warfare (BW) program was launched in 1943 and terminated in 1969, by executive order. During this period, the U.S. weaponized a variety of pathogens and toxins for use against humans and plants. The anti-human agents it developed for weapons purposes were Bacillus anthracis (anthrax), Francisella tularensis (tularemia), Coxiella burnetii (Q fever), the Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus, and staphylococcal enterotoxin B. The anti-plant agents were the fungi that cause wheat rust and rice blast. In addition, U.S. military scientists conducted research on pathogens that cause smallpox, glanders, and plague, as well as several toxins, such as botulinum toxin, saxitoxin, and ricin. The entire U.S. BW stockpile was destroyed in 1969 and 1970; since that time, it has not had an offensive BW program. The U.S. ratified the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention (BWC) in March 1975 and had an important role in the process of developing confidence-building measures (CBMs) during several BWC review conferences. However, in 2001, the Bush administration rejected an effort by other signatories to conclude a protocol that would provide verification measures. Since then, the remaining parties to the BWC have conducted semiannual meetings to discuss, among other things, national measures for the implementation of biosecurity regulations and penal legislation, leading up to the Sixth Review Conference in 2006.[2] In addition, the United States has conducted an active biodefense program for many years in accordance with BWC provisions that permit the use of agents of types and in quantities appropriate for prophylactic, protective, or other peaceful purposes. These activities are reported each year to Congress and in an annual information exchange on biodefense activities under the BWC. A 4 September 2001 New York Times article identified previously undisclosed U.S. government biodefense projects involving a model of a germ bomb, a factory to make biological agents, and the development of more potent anthrax. The United States denied allegations that this research was anything other than defensive in nature and asserted that it did not violate any BWC provisions or CBMs. On 28 April 2004, President Bush outlined the administration's perspective on biological weapons by issuing National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD-33) called "Biodefense for the 21st Century", an initiative to strengthen the country's biodefense capabilities through programs in threat awareness, prevention and protection, surveillance and detection, and response and recovery. The Bush administration also faces criticism that financial resources have been redirected from non-biodefense research in order to fund additional biodefense research.
Chemical South Africa’s chemical warfare program was one of the two principal components of its covert state-sponsored CBW program, codenamed Project Coast (later Project Jota). Personnel associated with Coast have characterized it as the most sophisticated program of its type outside of the former Soviet Union, but international CBW experts generally consider it to have been considerably less advanced from a scientific standpoint. Although ostensibly created entirely for defensive purposes, since government and Cuban military forces in Angola were reportedly equipped for and planning to use—if not already using—CW agents against the South African Defence Force (SADF), from the outset the program also had offensive features and capabilities. The apartheid-era South African government viewed itself as the target of a “total onslaught” by Soviet-backed Marxist guerrillas or regimes in neighboring states and black nationalists at home, and to meet this all-encompassing “red-black danger” it was apparently willing to use almost any means at its disposal to defend itself. It was in this highly charged political and military context, which precipitated a “bunker” or “laager” mentality, that Coast was secretly initiated in 1981 under the aegis of the SADF Special Forces. The chief facility for researching and producing CW agents was a military front company called Delta G Scientific, located between Johannesburg and Pretoria, and several other facilities were set up to develop protective clothing, manufacture exotic assassination devices, and “weaponize” irritants (Riot Control Agents such as CS and CR) and incapacitants by placing them in artillery shells, mortar bombs, and grenades. Project Officer Dr. Wouter Basson also set up an elaborate network of procurement and financial front companies overseas. During its existence Coast scientists tested and developed both small quantities of well-known CW agents (including mustard agent, sarin, tabun, BZ, and perhaps VX) and a host of lethal, hard-to-trace toxic chemicals. Several of these latter, above all the toxic organophosphates, were almost certainly employed to assassinate individual “enemies of the state.” Certain CW facilities also carried out research on the suitability of using illegal drugs such as methaqualone (“Quaaludes”), MDMA (“Ecstasy”), LSD, marijuana extract (tetrahydrocannibol), and cocaine as incapacitating “calmatives,” but some of these illegal drugs may have ended up being sold for a profit. The CBW program was officially dismantled in 1993, in the midst of a liberalizing transformation of the regime. There are indications, however, that certain personnel who were intimately involved in the program, including Basson, may have provided technical knowledge, equipment, or materials to “rogue regimes” such as Libya, to foreign intelligence personnel, to unscrupulous black marketers trafficking in dangerous weapons, and perhaps also—if certain journalists can be believed—to elements of a shadowy international network of right-wing extremists. These claims have yet to be fully investigated, much less verified. The extent to which various foreign governments, military establishments, and intelligence agencies secretly monitored or covertly assisted in the development of the program likewise remains an open question. The U.S. chemical warfare (CW) program began with the establishment of the Chemical Warfare Service in June 1918. During World War I, the United States manufactured, stockpiled, and used chemical weapons. Chemical weapons development and production continued during and after World War II, but the production of unitary chemical munitions was terminated in 1969. During the Reagan administration, the production of binary chemical weapons was restarted, but was discontinued in 1990. Since then, the United States no longer has an active CW program. The United States ratified the Geneva Protocol in 1975, with the reservation that the treaty not apply to defoliants and riot control agents such as were used in Vietnam and Laos during the Vietnam War. Currently, the United States has what is believed to be the world's second largest stockpile of chemical weapons, including bombs, rockets, and artillery shells that are loaded with lewisite, mustard, sarin, soman, VX, or binary nerve agents. Under terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which the United States ratified in April 1997, the United States has committed to destroying all chemical stockpiles by April 2004. However in September 2003, the Pentagon announced that it would be unable to meet this deadline and would ask for an extension at the Fall 2003 CWC meeting. As of 28 December 2004, the Chemical Materials Agency of the U.S. Army announced that only 33.34% of the nation's stored chemical agent, including 70% of the remaining mustard agent stockpile, and 42% of the nation's chemical weapons munitions had been destroyed. Former chemical production facilities and recovered chemical warfare materials are also being destroyed under the U.S. Army Non-Stockpile Chemical Materiel Program (NSCMP). The NSCMP also destroyed 80% of the nation's original chemical weapons production facilities in 2003, 16 months ahead of schedule, and will meet the final deadline of 100% destruction by April 2007.
Missile It is not clear when South Africa began ballistic missile-related efforts, but reportedly by the mid-1980s, some missile infrastructure existed in the country. It appears that Israel collaborated with South Africa in development of this program, but the nature and extent of this relationship is unknown. Following a July 1989 flight-test of what Pretoria described as a “booster rocket” in a space-launch program, U.S. intelligence noted striking similarities between this system and Israel’s intermediate-range Jericho-2 ballistic missile. Facing U.S. opposition to missile proliferation and the end of its apartheid government, South Africa abandoned its missile and space launch programs in 1991 and dismantled associated facilities under international observation. South Africa became a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in 1995. The United States has the capability to produce highly sophisticated liquid- and solid-fueled missiles of all ranges. It currently deploys 500 Minuteman and 10 MX/Peacekeeper nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) at three bases in Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming. The number of warheads on Minuteman missiles was scheduled to be reduced from three to one by 2007 under the defunct START II agreement, but this plan may be revised to assign between 700 to 800 warheads to the 500 Minutemen missiles. Deactivation of the MX/Peacekeeper force began in October 2002 and will conclude in 2005, at the cost of $600 million. In 2004, the Defense Department retired 17 additional MX/Peacekeeper missiles as part of this plan, and the final 10 MX missiles will be withdrawn from alert status by October 1, 2005. These remaining missiles will not be destroyed as prescribed under START II, but will be retained as stipulated in the 2001 NPR for potential use as space launch vehicles, target vehicles, or for redeployment. The Minuteman missile force is also undergoing a $6.0 billion modernization program to improve the weapon's accuracy, reliability, and to extend its service life beyond 2020. A new, longer-range ICBM, to be ready in 2018, is being considered by the Pentagon. As of early 2005, the U.S. Navy had 14 operational Ohio-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), having reduced its level by one in 2004 to meet NPR specifications. The four oldest subs in the original class of 18 have been converted to carry non-nuclear cruise missiles. The 14 operational SSBNs carry a total of 336 Trident-1 and Trident-II submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), each carrying between six and eight warheads, for an estimated total of 2,016. All SSBNs will be modified to carry the Trident II missiles, and the navy has extended the service life of the Trident-II from 30 to 49 years. The Pentagon is planning to introduce a new SSBN in 2029 when the oldest of the current subs will be retired. Previous predictions indicated that the U.S. Navy would station the 14 SSBNs evenly among the Atlantic and Pacific fleets; however, recent planning shifts have called for an SSBN fleet of 9 to be stationed in the Pacific with only 5 submarines in the Atlantic. Also, in 2004, the Navy initiated the Enhanced Effectiveness (E2) Reentry Body Program that would allow missiles to be targeted within 10-meter accuracy, expanding the list of potential targets to be attacked by W76 warheads. Finally, the Navy plans to resume SLBM flight tests in 2005 and plans to develop a submarine-launched intermediate-range ballistic missile (SLIRBM) that would carry nuclear and conventional payloads. The U.S. bomber force consists of 94 B-52 bombers stationed at Barksdale AFB in Louisiana and Minot AFB in North Dakota, and 21 B-2 bombers stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. The B-52 can deliver air-launched cruise missiles (ALCM), advanced cruise missiles (ACM), or gravity bombs. The B-2 carries only gravity bombs. It is estimated that 450 ALCMs are deployed as well as around 400 operational ACMs, which have a longer range, greater accuracy, and more difficult to intercept than an ALCM. The B-2s are scheduled to undergo upgrades allowing them to make mission and target changes in route. The U.S. Air Force intends to expedite the process of finding a replacement for its current bomber force, considering long- and mid-range options, unmanned aircraft, and new bombers. The United States is a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), whose goal is to control the transfer of nuclear-capable missiles and unmanned delivery systems capable of carrying all types of WMD.
Nuclear In the 1960s, South Africa began to explore the technical utility of "peaceful nuclear explosions" for mining and engineering purposes. In 1973, then Prime Minister Johannes Vorster approved a program to develop a limited nuclear deterrent capability. Ultimately, South Africa manufactured six air-deliverable nuclear weapons of the "gun-type" design. In parallel with decisions to end apartheid, the government halted the bomb program in 1989 and dismantled existing weapons and associated production equipment. South Africa acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapon state in 1991, and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors subsequently verified the completeness of its nuclear dismantlement. South Africa joined the Zangger Committee in 1994 and the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 1995. South Africa was instrumental in winning indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995, and played a leading role in successful conclusion of the 2000 NPT Review Conference as a member of the "New Agenda Coalition" that also included Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, and Sweden. More recently, South Africa began working more closely with the IAEA in 2004, in order to monitor international smuggling of nuclear weapons materials, after investigations of a South African businessman exposed connections to the A.Q. Khan network. In 2004, there was also ample discussion concerning South Africa’s dwindling coal reserves and its need for additional nuclear power generation. As one of the five recognized nuclear weapons states under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the United States maintains a sizeable arsenal of nuclear weapons, including approximately 10,350 intact warheads, 5300 of which are considered active or operational. Approximately 4,530 strategic warheads are operational, 1,150 of which are deployed on land-based missile systems (Minuteman and Peacekeeper ICBMs), 1,050 on bombers (B-52 and B-2), and 2,016 on submarines (Ohio-class subs). 780 are tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs), and consist of an estimated 200 Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles (TLAM/N), and 580 B61 bombs. The remaining warheads are stockpiled. The only remaining U.S. weapons in forward deployment, aside from those on SSBNs, are approximately 480 of the 580 operational B61 bombs, located at eight bases in six European NATO countries. According to the May 2002 Treaty of Moscow (the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, or SORT) between the United States and the Russian Federation, both countries are required to reduce their strategic nuclear arsenals to 1,700-2,200 operationally deployed warheads by 2012. In June 2004, the US Department of Energy announced that "almost half" of these warheads would be retired for dismantlement by 2012. This statement suggests that the total stockpile of 10,350 warheards would be reduced to about 6,000 by this date. Over 5,000 warheads have been removed from deployment by the United States and placed in a "responsive reserve force" (active but not deployed or in overhaul). These "spares," or warheads on inactive status, have not been dismantled, in keeping with past practice under previous U.S. arms control agreements. The Bush administration has rejected U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, but calls for a continued moratorium on nuclear testing. The NPR calls for a reduction in the amount of time needed (now 18 months as mandated by Congress, but this could be reduced to as little as 12 months) to test a nuclear weapon, suggesting that the United States might decide to resume nuclear testing, although Bush administration officials deny that this is currently planned and explain the shortening of test-site readiness time as a logical extension of the U.S. decision to maintain a testing option. The NPR also calls for discussion on possible development of new, low-yield, bunker-busting TNW. A law barring research and development that could lead to the production by the United States of a new low-yield "bunker buster" nuclear weapon (warheads with a yield of 5 kilotons or less) was passed by Congress in 1994. In its FY2004 budget request, however, the Department of Defense requested a repeal of the 1994 law, suggesting that the U.S. government intends to proceed with development of new nuclear weapons. The repeal was approved by the Senate on 20 May 2003. The Bush administration has requested an additional $8.5 million in its 2006 budget in order to continue research of nuclear "bunker busters" under the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP) Project. Congress rejected RNEP funding and resources for the Advanced Concepts Initiative, one that would develop mini-nukes or exotic designs, completely for FY2005. Weapons laboratories under the Department of Energy began research on the RNEP Project in 2003, and the study is expected to be complete in 2006. The United States used nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, making it the only country that has ever used nuclear weapons during a conflict. It ratified the NPT in March 1970.
Overview South Africa's nuclear, biological, chemical, and missile programs reflected perceptions of internal and external threats stemming from its former government's policy of apartheid, as well as the country's advanced state of technical development. Pretoria developed nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles but relinquished these armaments in the early 1990s. The apartheid government also undertook a chemical and biological weapons (CBW) defense program, which reportedly also included offensive research and use of CBW agents against opponents of that government. While the proliferation legacies of South Africa's nuclear and missile programs were effectively resolved through verified disarmament measures that won international acclaim, dismantlement of the country's CBW capabilities was not verified to a comparable degree of certainty. The post-apartheid government of South Africa implemented its nonproliferation and disarmament policy through the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction Act (No. 87 of 1993) to control the transfer of sensitive items and technologies. South Africa is the first and, to date, only country to build a nuclear arsenal, and then voluntarily dismantle its entire nuclear weapons program. The South African experience demonstrates that at least under some conditions, unilateral disarmament is not only possible, but can improve a nation’s security. The United States possesses a substantial nuclear weapons arsenal and associated delivery systems. The 2001 Nuclear Posture Review suggests that the United States may seek to develop, and possibly test, new types of nuclear weapons in the future. The United States destroyed its biological weapons by 1970 and is in the process of destroying its stockpile of chemical weapons. Some critics allege that elements of U.S. government biodefense research are in violation of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC).

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