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South Africa’s Arms Trade (8/98)

In the aftermath of the nuclear tests in South Asia, the US State Department, CIA, and other agencies are scrambling to review South Africa’s multi-billion dollar armament industry, particularly its apartheid-era nuclear weapons program. "We are continually updating assessments," a CIA spokesman confirmed recently on the usual condition of anonymity. "But certain aspects are under increased scrutiny, and one of them is their nuclear capability."

In 1993, then South African Prime Minister F.W. De Klerk confirmed what had been an open secret. South Africa had the bomb – seven of the Hiroshima-style weapons to be precise. Manufactured by South African nuclear physicists at the Palindaba atomic complex near Pretoria despite anti-apartheid sanctions, the "Armageddon" devices were reputedly destroyed later that year. read more

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Human Rights: Ending the Nighmare (5/98)

Electric shocks, partial drowning, sleep depravation, and mental distress – torture comes in many forms. But increased exposure, modern communications, and the linking of development aid to a country’s human rights record are forcing change as the century draws to a close.

In 1982, I experienced torture. Born and raised a Kenyan of European descent, I came face to face with the dark secrets that all Kenyans knew, but were cowed into enduring. The bludgeoning death of President Jomo Kenyatta’s rebellious confidant J.J. Kariuki, the assassination of firebrand opposition leader Tom Mboya on Nairobi’s Government Road, and the free-fall death from an army helicopter of Robert Ouko, President Moi’s about-to-tell-all foreign minister, brought the message home. read more

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The US Steps In (2/98)

As the old colonial powers – Britain, France, Portugal, and Belgium – retreat from Africa, the US
is rushing in. Angola, Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and even
obscure African countries are appearing on every Clinton official’s itinerary. Does this diplomatic
frenzy support a coordinated US foreign policy agenda? Or, is it driven by less noble, even
colonialist economic objectives? Since the recent flurry of State Department attention was
preceded by the signing of questionable mineral, communications, and financial deals by
highly-leveraged US corporations, it’s a fair question. US newspaper headlines trumpet the trend:
"American Mineral Fields Corporation of Arkansas in billion dollar mineral deal," "New
Millennium Investment, Inc. of Washington signs Congo telecommunications agreement," and "The
Leon Tempelsman & Son Investment Group proposes Angolan diamond operation." Grandiose
financial statements follow with almost frantic regularity. And most of the corporations making
these announcements have heavyweight lobbyists from both sides of the political aisle. read more