South Africa which managed to create its own nuclear weapons in the epoch of apartheid but dismantled it prior to the first ever non-racist elections in the country decided to completely wind up enriched uranium production as well. In compliance with a contract signed early in the outgoing year all the equipment involved in production of zirconium tubes, used as nuclear reactor rods and for transportation of radioactive substances, has been sold to China.
The contract was strictly confidential, but as a result of information leakage journalists and the immigration authorities arrived at the Pelindaba Nuclear Centre near Pretoria. To their surprise, policemen saw over 40 Chinese experts working there who had arrived in South Africa in October provided with business visas. However, instead of conducting business negotiations the group had been dismantling and loading precious equipment into containers, which undoubtedly, was beyond its competence.
A brief footage from the scene was shown on local television. The Sunday Independent newspaper presented its own variant of the sensational news on Sunday followed by a forced explanation made by one of the managers of the Corporation for Atomic Power of South Africa, Laurence Heslope who said in particular, that the agreement approved at a ministerial level envisaged turning over technologies for titanium production to China in the framework of" an exchange" between the two countries. The cost of the deal was not given, but according to reports available, it would total around five million dollars or a tenth of funds used in the past for production and installation of the equipment. As for "a political resonance" of the deal which is acquiring a scandalous touch, it might taint a ceremony to be held here at the end of December on the occasion of establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries.