ITY_COUNCIL_JAN_7_1980.pdf Security Council discussion paper for Jan 7, 1980 meeting on the Sep 22, 1979 Vela satellite event
Security Council discussion paper for the Jan 9, 1080 meeting on the Sep 22, 1979 Vela satellite event that detected a nuclear test. Conclusions point
to South Africa.
Document date: 1980-01-07
Department: National Security Council
Author: Christime Dodsen, Staff Secretary
Document type: memo
Archivist's Notes: Fair quality document with limited blacking out. Unclassified. Hand written note 'file S. Africa'. Routing slip with 5
This looks to be one of a series of documents pertaining to a suspected atmospheric nuclear detonation in the Indian Ocean, south of Africa, on
September 22, 1979, known as the Vela Incident, named after the satellite Vela that picked up the detonation.
Having no other corroborating evidence that a detonation took place and with no one taking responsibility for it, this document discusses the issues
at hand and the possible responses. This document seems to be a briefing document for an upcoming “mini-SCC” meeting and listed the following
Issue 1: What should the US say publicly and privately on the results of analysis of our information?
The given options ranged from saying a nuclear detonation took place and they didn’t know who did it, to saying they couldn’t tell if it was a
nuclear detonation or not.
Issue 2: Should the US continue to press for a nuclear agreement with South Africa?
I believe that at the time of the detonation, the US was in negotiations with South Africa to supply them with nuclear material to be used for power
generation, which France had already been doing, so now the options were whether to pull out of the negotiations or not.
Issue 3: What position should the US take on nuclear sanctions against South Africa?
The options are whether to support UN sanctions against South Africa in light of them possibly being responsible for the nuclear detonation.
This is a fascinating look into a historical event and the reaction of the US government with various possible options to take. This is a parallel
event to the recent detonation of a device by North Korea.
the vela incident is certainly interesting. it appears that even now, almost 30 years after it happened, nobody has claimed responsibility for it or
proven who did the apparent nuclear test. there were many suspicions of which country could have done it on their own or with the cooperation of
another country but if someone knows, they're not saying.
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