Commonwealth, Bargains and influence: British atomic relations vis-à-vis South Africa, 1955–1956

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2 Citations (Scopus)


At a time when uranium commanded attraction and became a currency for powerful states enmeshed in the Cold War, South Africa was courted, since its uranium was a commodity needed for both peaceful and military purposes by these principal state actors. J.D.L. Moore and G. Berridge gave two contrasting explanations for the British role in atomic South Africa in 1955 and 1956. The former claims that Britain was inevitably more modestly influential than the Americans. The latter claims that British anxiety about future deliveries of South African uranium forced it to make major concessions, such as the handover of Simon’s Town. I argue that both claims are incorrect. On the first claim, the output of South African uranium was determined largely by the US, through the mechanism of the Combined Development Agency. On the second claim, South Africa was in such a precarious situation that it was impossible for it to use its uranium for so much leverage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-686
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Southern African Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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