Key findings from Pelindaba

Key findings:

  • Washington remains spooked by a break-in at Pelindaba, the South African storage site for nuclear explosives, eight years ago.
  • No one was ever prosecuted for the Pelindaba break-in, even though a nonpublic South African report concluded in 2009 it posed a serious security threat.
  • South Africa’s government claims the break-in was a petty burglary, but U.S. officials and independent experts worry that the attackers were after nuclear explosives.
  • The nonpublic South African report described how at every step, the attackers displayed a detailed knowledge of Pelindaba’s layout and security systems, as well as the expertise needed to overcome the site’s defenses.
  • The incident led to unpublicized collaboration between a U.S. nuclear weapons laboratory and the nuclear site on stronger security measures, but White House officials are convinced more needs to be done at Pelindaba.