Drivers of nuclear proliferation: South Africa's incentives and constraints


  • Lucky Asuelime University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Suzanne Francis University of KwaZulu-Natal


Nuclear proliferation, South Africa, Technology, Capability, Motivation, Incentives and disincentives, Constraints, Uranium, Nuclear Proliferation Treaty


Many factors are identified as causes of nuclear proliferation, but three stands out among them. These comprise the international and domestic political environment, technical capabilities and motivation. This article explores, on the one hand, the conditions that are conducive for the proliferation of nuclear weapons, whilst also suggesting strategies that can effectively address the problem. The authors use the South African episode as a case study. They identify the role of technology and motivations in the development of South Africa’s nuclear weapons programme and claim that the possession of technological capability is not a sufficient cause of nuclear proliferation. Rather, the presence of strong motivations in conjunction with sufficient technical capability leads to nuclear proliferation.


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How to Cite

Asuelime, L., & Francis, S. (2014). Drivers of nuclear proliferation: South Africa’s incentives and constraints. Southern Journal for Contemporary History, 39(1), 55-68. Retrieved from