Why weapons of mass destruction(WMD) controls?

The control over weapons of mass destruction (WMD) is globally pursued through international agreements and arrangements (treaties, conventions and control Regimes) relating to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, their specific means of delivery and the associated dual-use ramifications. South Africa subscribes to, supports and participates in most of these agreements and arrangements.

Overview of the Non-Proliferation Council

In South Africa due regard has been taken of the gravity of the possible proliferation of weapons of mass destruction with policy development and the enactment of specific legislation in the form of the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction Act, 1993 Act No.87 of 1993).This legislation provides for control over WMD and establishes the South African Council for the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (the Council) to control and manage matters relating to the proliferation of such weapons. The Council shall; on behalf of the State, protect the interests, carry out the responsibilities and fulfil the obligations of the Republic with regard to non-proliferation, and advise the Minister with regard to any matter which it deems necessary and which falls within the purview of this Act.

The functions the Council, are amongst others:

  • To control and manage all activities relating to non‑proliferation, and provide guidance,
    instructions and information in connection therewith
  • To implement matters arising from international conventions, treaties and agreements
    related to proliferation affairs entered into or ratified by the Government of the Republic;
  • To obtain or promote the co‑operation between government departments and other
    government institutions; as well as industry;
  • To identify and indicate to the Minister goods to be declared controlled goods and
    activities;
  • To determine which activities must take place under a permit issued by the Council;
  • To administer the registration of persons involved in controlled activities or who are in
    possession of controlled goods;
  • To issue and administer permits;
  • To take the necessary steps to prevent the contravention of the provisions of the Act;
The members of the Council are appointed by the Minister of Trade and Industry is comprised of designates from various government departments directly involved in issues of non-proliferation as well as industry representatives, as follows:
  • Chairperson
  • Vice-Chairperson
  • Department of Trade and Industry
  • Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO)
  • Department of Defence and Military Veterans
  • South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA Safeguards Division)
  • Department of Mineral Resources and Energy
  • State Security Agency
  • Industry: (Chemical, Biological, Nuclear and Aerospace)

Link between the dti, the Council and the Non-Proliferation Council

The Council is formed under the auspices of the Minister of Trade and Industry. The Non-Proliferation Secretariat are part of the International Trade and Economic Development Division (ITED) of the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) and are responsible for offering the administration support to the Council and its committees.

The functions the Council, are amongst others:

  • To control and manage all activities relating to non‑proliferation, and provide guidance,
    instructions and information in connection therewith
  • To implement matters arising from international conventions, treaties and agreements
    related to proliferation affairs entered into or ratified by the Government of the Republic;
  • To obtain or promote the co‑operation between government departments and other
    government institutions; as well as industry;
  • To identify and indicate to the Minister goods to be declared controlled goods and
    activities;
  • To determine which activities must take place under a permit issued by the Council;
  • To administer the registration of persons involved in controlled activities or who are in
    possession of controlled goods;
  • To issue and administer permits;
  • To take the necessary steps to prevent the contravention of the provisions of the Act;
The members of the Council are appointed by the Minister of Trade and Industry is comprised of designates from various government departments directly involved in issues of non-proliferation as well as industry representatives, as follows:
  • Chairperson
  • Vice-Chairperson
  • Department of Trade and Industry
  • Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO)
  • Department of Defence and Military Veterans
  • South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA Safeguards Division)
  • Department of Mineral Resources and Energy
  • State Security Agency
  • Industry: (Chemical, Biological, Nuclear and Aerospace)

The Secretariat supports the objectives of the Council through, inter alia:

    • The management of the system for the registration of persons involved in activities with
      regard to controlled goods;
    • The management of the permit system for persons trading in controlled goods;
    • Maintaining contact with and ensuring effective coordination and information exchange with entities/persons involved in or intending to become involved in activities with regard to controlled activities and or goods through industry visits and outreach programs;

Committees of the Council

The NPC has established a number of committees in terms of Section 10 of the Act that are constituted by representatives from different government departments including, in some instances, industry representatives and experts in specific fields related to non-proliferation. These Committees assist with specific technical issues.

    • Non-Proliferation Control Committee (CC)
      The CC consists of representatives from the Non-Proliferation Secretariat; DIRCO; Chief Directorate Conventional Arms Control (CDCAC); National Conventional Arms Control Inspectorate (NCACI); NECSA Safeguards Division; SSA; Defence Intelligence (DI); Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.

The CC advises the Council on non-proliferation issues, permit applications and special investigations.

    • Biological Weapons Working Committee (BWWC)
      The BWWC consists of representatives from the Non-Proliferation Secretariat; Council members; DIRCO; SSA; National Institute for Communicable Diseases(NICD); Protechnik Laboratories; Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development; Department of Health (DoH) and experts from the industry.

The BWWC advises the Council issues related to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) and the implementation of biological controls.

    • Chemical Weapons Working Committee (CWWC)
      The CWWC consists of representatives from the Non-Proliferation Secretariat; Council members; DIRCO; SSA; the South African Military Health Services (SAMHS); Protechnik Laboratories and experts from the industry.

The CWWC advises the Council on issues related to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

    • Nuclear and Missile Dual-Use Committee (NMDUC)
      The NMDUC consists of representatives from the Non-Proliferation Secretariat; Council members; DIRCO; SSA; DI; DCAC; NECSA Safeguards Division; Department of Mineral Resources and Energy and experts from industry.

The NMDUC advises the NPC on nuclear related dual-use and missile related technical issues.