The South African Council for the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (NPC)

Background
Nuclear, biological and chemical weapons also referred to as Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), and their delivery systems nowadays occupy a prominent position in the minds of Governments and the public. At the same time, there is widespread agreement on the need to prevent their proliferation.

The understanding that WMD pose a threat to all people of the world was summarised in recent statements by President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, on the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the first Nuclear Security Summit held in Washington DC in 2010:

"In conclusion, Mr President, although this summit provides an important forum for us to raise awareness on the importance of nuclear security, we should not lose sight of the important goal of the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction.

Success in the achievement of this goal is the only real guarantee against the threat posed by these instruments of destruction."

The control over WMD is globally pursued through international agreements and arrangements (Treaties, Conventions and Control Regimes) relating to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, their specific means of delivery and the associated dual-use ramifications.  South Africa subscribes to, supports and participates in most of these agreements and arrangements.

In South Africa due regard has been taken of the gravity of the situation with policy development and the enactment of specific legislation in the form of the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction Act, No. 87 of 1993 (Act No. 87 of 1993). This legislation provides for control over WMD and establishes a Council to control and manage matters relating to the proliferation of such weapons.

The Council is formed under the auspices of the Minister of Trade and Industry, in whose Department the Secretariat for the Council operates.  From the outset the Council determined that the best elements of international practice concerning control over proliferation, appropriate to the South African situation, would be adopted.

Accordingly, the legal basis has been progressively developed through, inter alia, the formulation of lists of controlled goods, published by notice in the Government Gazette.

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Functions of the NPC
The Act, as amended in 1995, 1996 and 2005, was promulgated “To provide for control over weapons of mass destruction; and the establishment of a Council to control and manage matters relating to the proliferation of such weapons in the Republic; to determine its objects and functions; to prescribe the manner in which it is to be managed and controlled; as well as to provide for matters connected therewith”.

Subject to Section 2 of the Act, the Minister may, by notice in the Government Gazette, determine the general policy to be followed.

In terms of Section 4 of the Act, the South African Council for the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (Council) was established.

In terms of Section 6 of the Act, the Council shall; on behalf of the State, protect the interests, carry out the responsibilities and fulfill the obligations of the Republic with regard to non-proliferation, and advise the Minister with regard to any matter which it deems necessary and which falls within the purview of this Act. The Section also states, amongst others, the other functions of the Council:

  • Overall Responsibility
    Control and manage all activities relating to non-proliferation, and provide guidance, instructions and information in connection therewith;
  • International Co-operation and Obligations
    Supervise and implement matters arising from international conventions, treaties and agreements related to proliferation affairs entered into or ratified by the Government of the Republic;
  • Obtain the co-operation of, exchange information with, and give assistance to, governments of other states, as well as foreign and international bodies having objects similar to those of the Council, and obtain membership of international bodies with such objects;
  • Co-operation with Government Departments and Institutions
    Obtain or promote the co-operation of departments of State and other government institutions.
  • Co-operation with Commerce and Industry
    Obtain or promote the co-operation of representatives of any branch of commerce and industry and other persons concerned;
  • Controlled Activities and Goods
    To identify and indicate to the Minister goods to be declared controlled goods and activities including means of transit or re-export, including those relating to goods in bond;
  • Prohibit the manufacture, procurement in any manner, use, operation, stockpiling, maintenance, import, export, re-export or transport or disposal by any means of specified goods and activities.
  • Determine that the manufacture, procurement in any manner, use, operation, stockpiling, maintenance, import, export, re-export, transit, transport or disposal by any means of specified goods may only take place under a permit issued by the Council
  • Registration and Permits
    Administer the registration of any person who is in control of any activity with regard to controlled goods or who has in his possession or custody or under his control controlled goods.
  • Issue and administer permits
  • Compliance and Enforcement
    • Take the necessary steps to prevent the contravention of the provisions of this Act;
    • Ensure that the conditions of permits and end-use requirements are met, and take the necessary regulatory steps in this regard;
    • Collect all data and samples it may deem necessary from any person who is in control of any activity with regard to controlled goods or who has in his possession or custody or under his control controlled goods, and make declarations as contemplated in the Act
    • Institute and co-ordinate investigations, carry out and coordinate inspections and verifications;
    • Verify that controlled goods, which are subject to end-use conditions and are imported, are delivered, retained and used in accordance with such conditions and for the intended purpose;
    • Cause codes of conduct relating to non-proliferation to be framed and issued, and assist any person or department of State in the preparation and framing of codes of conduct aimed at non-proliferation.
  • Information
    Give assistance to any person or authority so as to ensure that trade and commercial secrets are not compromised during the execution of activities related to non-proliferation;
  • Provide for the publication of information concerning the activities of the Council.

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Membership of the NPC
  • Chairperson
  • Vice-Chairperson
  • Department of International Relations and Cooperation
  • Department of Trade and Industry
  • Defence Secretariat
  • Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans
  • Chemical Industry
  • Biological Industry
  • Aerospace Industry
  • Nuclear Industry
  • South African Nuclear Energy Corporation
  • Department of Energy
  • State Security Agency

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Meetings of the NPC
The NPC meets at least every 6 to 8 weeks to deliberate on non-proliferation related issues, to assess the activities of its committees and to consider permit applications received from industry.

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The Non-Proliferation Secretariat (NPS)
the dti ’s Chief Directorate: Non-Proliferation and Space, also known as the Non-Proliferation Secretariat (NPS), supplies the administrative and secretarial services to the NPC and its Committees. The NPS forms part of the International Trade and Economic Development Division of the dti.

The NPS supports the objectives of the NPC through:

  • The management of the system for the registration of persons involved in activities with regard to controlled goods;
  • The management of the permit and end-user system;
  • Maintaining contact with and ensuring effective coordination and information exchange with the various stakeholders responsible for non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control, including the various enforcement agencies, border control, SAPS, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), intelligence agencies and national, regional and international control authorities/agencies;
  • The NPS is responsible for managing and implementing a non-proliferation compliance programme. The implementation of a voluntary ICP for industry that aims to promote effective compliance with policy and legislation relating to the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
  • Maintaining contact with and ensuring effective coordination and information exchange with entities/persons involved in or intending to become involved in activities with regard to controlled activities and or goods;
  • The interpretation and implementation of the requirements of national legislation and the various international treaties, conventions, and control regimes relating to non-proliferation;
  • The gathering, interpreting and exchange of information and intelligence related to the non-proliferation of WMD;
  • The managing of a system to monitor national and international best-practises, trends, agreements, treaties, conventions, control regimes, transgressions, etc. in order to ensure that South Africa remains abreast of developments, through information exchange programmes and co-operation with national and international control authorities and agencies;
  • Maintaining a comprehensive database of all persons or countries involved in activities that could contribute to the proliferation of WMD (persons and countries and entities (includes companies and/or non-State actors) of proliferation concern;
  • The interpretation and implementation of the requirements of national legislation and the various international treaties, conventions, and control regimes relating to non-proliferation;
  • The gathering, interpreting and exchange of information and intelligence related to the non-proliferation of WMD;
  • The managing of a system to monitor national and international best-practises, trends, agreements, treaties, conventions, control regimes, transgressions, etc. in order to ensure that South Africa remains abreast of developments, through information exchange programmes and co-operation with national and international control authorities and agencies; and
  • Maintaining a comprehensive database of all persons or countries involved in activities that could contribute to the proliferation of WMD (persons and countries and entities (includes companies and/or non-State actors) of proliferation concern.

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Co-ordinating Control Structures to ensure effective stakeholder co-operation (Interdepartmental and Working Committees)

To ensure effective non-proliferation control, the process of control must be integrated, coordinated and administered because many Government Departments and institutions are directly and indirectly involved in the implementation and enforcement of South Africa’s policy and legislation on Non-proliferation.

The relevant Government Departments and Agencies are, amongst others, DoE; DIRCO; National Treasury - SARS (Customs); National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC); SAPS (legal support; Crime against the State (CATS); Inspectorate of Explosives; Border Police); SSA; Agriculture, Health, Justice (National Director of Public Prosecutions), as well as relevant professional councils, when required.

Co-operation takes place at various levels and through various Inter-departmental committees and working groups.

Diagrammatic representation of relationship between the various structures

Committees of NPC

The NPC has established a number of committees in terms of Section 10 of the Act.  These Committees assist with specific technical issues.

  • Non-Proliferation Control Committee (CC)

    The CC consists of representatives from the Non-Proliferation Secretariat (NPS); the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO); the ChiefDirectorate Conventional Arms Control (CDCAC); the Safeguards Division of the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA); the State Security Agency (SSA); Defence Intelligence (DI); the Department of Energy (DoE);

    The CC advises the NPC on non-proliferation issues, permit applications and special investigations.

  • Chemical Weapons Working Committee (CWWC)

    The CWWC consists of representatives of the various Government stakeholders, i.e. from the NPC; the NPS; DIRCO; SSA; the South African Military Health Services (SAMHS); Protechnik Laboratories and experts from the industry.

    The CWWC advises the NPC on the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

  • Bilogical Weapons Working Committee (BWWC)

    The BWWC consists of representatives of the various Government stakeholders and experts involved in biological-related controls, manufacturing, use and distribution. These include the NPC; NPS; the South African Military Health Services (SAMHS); DIRCO; National Institute for Communicable Disease (NICD); Protechnik Laboratories; Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Representative from the Academy of Sciences of South Africa, Established research organisations and Institutions (e.g. CSIR), Department of Health (DoH); SSA and experts from industry. 

    The BWWC advises the NPC on issues related to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) and the implementation of biological controls.

  • Nuclear and Missile Dual-Use Committee (NMDUC)

    The NMDUC consists of representatives of the various stakeholders involved in nuclear dual-use and missile delivery systems. These included the NPC; the NPS; SSA, DI; DIRCO; DCAC; NECSA Safeguards Division; DoE and experts from industry on invitation.

    The NMDUC advises the NPC on nuclear related dual-use and missile related issues.

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