Vastrap was the proposed site for South Africa’s first underground nuclear test in 1977:

During 1975-77 two test shafts measuring 216 and 385 meters deep were drilled at the Vastrap testing range north of Upington in the Kalahari Desert for conducting nuclear tests. A fully instrumented test cold test of the feasibility demonstrator prototype with a depleted uranium core (basically a dry run for an actual nuclear test) was scheduled for August 1977. Preliminary plans for a subsequent nuclear test were considered. As preparations proceeded, the US was passed information by South Africa of its intention to conduct nuclear tests. The US urged SA not to conduct the test, but kept the information secret. But in August 1977 a Soviet surveillance satellite detected these test preparations, and the Soviets notified the US of their discovery. With its cover blown, heavy diplomatic pressure was brought by the US, the Soviet Union, and France on South Africa. The French foreign minister warned on 22 August of “grave consequences” or French­ South African relations. Although he did not elaborate, his statement implied that France was willing to cancel its contract for the Koeberg reactors. Upon direct instruction of the PM Vorster, the site was abandoned in August 1977 and was not revisited until 1987 when the test shafts were inspected and a corrugated iron shed with a concrete floor constructed over one of the two shafts to prepare the shaft for future testing contingencies. From Nuclear Weapon Archive In Al Venter’s book How South Africa Built Six Atom Bombs, he states that the Soviet satellite was sent over on information obtained from the spy Commodore Dieter Gerhardt. Gerhardt was one of the USSR most succesful spies. He was arrested in 1982, but after 30 years of being a Soviet mole in the South African Navy. He went to command the South Africa’s major naval base at Simonstown.

In 1994 talking of the Vela Incident (Spetember 22 1979) Gerhardt that the flash was produced by an Israeli-South African test code-named “Operation Phenix”. Gerhardt, who said he was not yet ready to reveal the full facts, stated that although he was not directly involved in planning or carrying out the operation, he had learned of it unofficially.

Gerhardt was quoted in the February 20, 1994 City Press: “The explosion was clean and was not supposed to be detected. But they were not as smart as they thought, and the weather changed – so the Americans were able to pick it up.”
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Vastrap and Operation Phenix | 2009 | Conspiracy, True History | Tags: , , | Comments (0)

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