Project Coast: Apartheid's Chemical and Biological Warfare Programme

By Chandré Gould; Peter Folb et al. | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION*
Under apartheid, South Africa's white minority regime felt threatened from within and outside its borders. The survival of the State was paramount in the minds of politicians and the military. Politicians and military leaders shared a common belief that the country was at war, a total war which required a total response. To this end a nuclear programme was initiated in the 1970s and the arms industry grew to considerable size.1 The leaders of the country decided to include chemical and biological weapons in their extensive arsenal, if only so that the military would have at its disposal a full range of unconventional weapons.The chemical and biological warfare (CBW) programme, code-named Coast, started in 1981 and officially ended in 1995. The purpose of Project Coast can be summarised as follows:
To develop chemical warfare agents that could be used by security forces to control crowds;
To do research into offensive and defensive chemical and biological warfare;
To develop offensive chemical and biological weapons for operational use;
To develop defensive training programmes for troops;
To develop and manufacture protective clothing.2

The South African Defence Force (SADF) philosophy with regard to chemical and biological warfare included “the right to reactively use nonlethal chemical warfare”, “the integration of chemical warfare into all conventional actions”, and “the acceptance of the use of chemical warfare on a proactive basis to ensure the survival of the state, for example, in

*Research findings of the Centre for Conflict Resolution's chemical and
biological warfare research project.

-1-

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Project Coast: Apartheid's Chemical and Biological Warfare Programme
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Foreword v
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Acronyms xiii
  • Introduction* 1
  • Summary of Findings 7
  • The Botha Regime and Total Strategy 11
  • The Regional Context 21
  • Chemical Weapons in South Africa Prior to Project Coast 31
  • Project Coast's Links with the Police and Operational Units of the Military 47
  • Getting Down to Business 57
  • Roodeplaat Research Laboratories 69
  • The Private Companies 103
  • The de Klerk Years (1989-1993) and the Use of Cbw Agents 115
  • The Phases of Project Coast's Development 143
  • Allegations of Fraud: The Sale of Delta G Scientific and Rrl 145
  • The Intention of the Programme 153
  • Incidents of Poisoning 159
  • Structure and Management of Project Coast 169
  • International Links 191
  • Closing Down 209
  • Basson's Arrest and the Trc Hearing 223
  • The Criminal Trial of Dr Wouter Basson 231
  • Notes 241
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