n Africa Insight - South Africa's SAFARI - from nuclear weapons to nuclear medicine

Volume 43, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0256-2804


Since the verification of the termination of its nuclear weapons programme and the dismantling of its nuclear devices and facilities, South Africa has succeeded in converting its defensive nuclear posture to the employment of nuclear energy for peaceful uses, such as power generation and nuclear medicine. In respect of the latter, South Africa has skilfully crafted a global niche for itself. Building on its nuclear expertise, South Africa has become one of the world's leading producers of medical isotopes - an under-researched area in South Africa's nuclear and economic diplomacy - which are used in a variety of medical diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Moreover, South Africa has succeeded in producing these isotopes from low-enriched, rather than highly enriched uranium; adding further credence to its nuclear non-proliferation commitments. By converting its nuclear reactor, SAFARI-1, to produce and supply medical isotopes, South Africa has gained numerous material and non-material gains, ranging from foreign exchange to status and prestige.

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