Waldo Stumpf

Chief Executive Officer: Atomic Energy Corporation of South Africa (AEC) 1990-2001
Dr Waldo Stumpf was the Chief Executive Officer of South Africa's Atomic Energy Commission. He oversaw the development (and then dismantling) of the top-secret South African nuclear arms programme, a programme so secret that it was never admitted to until two years after it was over. Between 1960 and 1980, six nuclear devices were assembled and between 1975 and 1977, two shafts were drilled for testing nuclear devices in the Kalahari Desert.
Around a thousand experts were involved in its creation but less than ten people ‘had an oversight of the entire programme.’ Top secret clearance was only granted to people born in the country with no other citizenship; Dr Stumpf was one of those people.
But, under pressure from both Washington and Moscow, South Africa surrendered its long-range missile capability and by June 1991, South Africa’s nuclear weapons programme was effectively over. A month later, the county joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
When asked later, however, Dr Stumpf refused to divulge the suppliers of nuclear technology. So, questions remain. How did the country acquire the technology to build nuclear weapons? And how much was their decommissioning due to the fear that the ANC, then considered a terrorist organization and almost certain to inherit power, couldn’t be trusted with a nuclear arsenal? That aside, South Africa stands alone as an example of a country that has rejected nuclear arms while simultaneously embracing nuclear energy.