Nuclear free South Africa: 20 years on

In 1994 South Africa became the first and only ever country to voluntarily dismantle its nuclear weapons, proving that it is possible for a country to go nuclear weapon free without putting itself in danger of nuclear threat.

Since then Africa has become the world’s largest Nuclear Weapon Free Zone banning the use, development or deployment of nuclear weapons across the whole continent under the Treaty of Pelindaba.

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To mark 20 years since South Africa took these pioneering first steps, we’ve teamed up with local filmmakers Lionfish Productions to have a look into how this happened and what impact it has had on the country since.

In the film researcher Amelia Broodryk highlights the positive example that has been set by her country:

“I think that’s something that countries today still need to realise: you can give up your nuclear weapons and not make yourself vulnerable”

Amelia’s words are extremely important for the UK, which is gearing up to decide whether to renew its own nuclear weapons programme – Trident – in 2016. In response to those in the UK who feel that getting rid of nuclear weapons could have a negative political effect, such as MP James Arbuthnot who we spoke to recently, Amelia goes on to say;

“It’s given us more diplomatic power, we’re seen as a country that can facilitate discussion between countries that have weapons and countries that don’t”

The film also gathers the opinions of young South Africans on their nuclear past, with most agreeing that their country has taken a positive step forward. The closing line sums up the feeling of most:

“I think the ideal situation, is a world free of nuclear weapons”

Do you think the UK could follow South Africa’s lead and go nuclear-weapon-free? Let us know what you think by tweeting @WMDAwareness and join the conversation using #TalkingTrident

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