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The Battle of Cuito Cuanavale and the Nuclear Option

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posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 09:21 AM
Thanks to freetree64 for his post: Scary Letter From Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro mentioned in a recent blog (Reflections) that nuclear weapons had almost been used against the Cuban troops in Angola at the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale.

Here is a piece of history that most people never knew even happened:

For six months the SADF threw everything they had at the town [Cuito Cuanavale]. In December 1987, 1500 Cubans joined the defenders.

With the full power of the SADF aimed at Cuito Cuanavale, Cuban, Angolan and SWAPO forces prepared for a counter-attack. Fifty thousand Cuban volunteers went to Angola to help the fight.

Angolan and Cuban MIG 23 pilots swept the South African Air Force from Angolan skies. But SADF artillery superiority meant they could still rain 20,000 shells onto Cuito Cuanavale every day.

In major battles in January, February and March of 1988, the South Africans failed to take the town. Campbell claims that at this point, press-ganged black SADF soldiers began rebelling and SA president P.K. Botha flew to the front to stop the military command collapsing.

South Africa even considered the use of tactical nuclear weapons, according to Campbell.


Another source:

Failing to take Cuito Cuanavale with over 9,000 soldiers even after announcing to the world that Cuito Cuanavale had fallen; losing its superiority in the air; and faced with mutinies from the black troops of the pressed ganged battalions, the operational command of the SADF broke down and the president P.W. Botha had to fly to the war zone inside Angola. Botha, it was later revealed had flown in to intervene in a dispute among the South African military high command on whether the apartheid army should use tactical nuclear weapons. Botha decided against the use of nuclear weapons because at that time apartheid South Africa was a pariah state.


I think it was quite a close thing - the military almost used nuclear weapons, and it was only with the intervention of Botha that this scenario was avoided.
Is this the real reason he resigned so suddenly, leaving the way for the South Africa to finally shed the burden of apartheid?

Another Source:
Link to PDF

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 09:48 AM
I read alot on this last night after reading that thread.

A few links I ran across..

Cuito Cuanavale: How Cuba fought for Africa’s freedom

Does South Africa Have A Nuclear Bomb In Its Basement?

Quote from the second link..

The second incident occurred on the night of 22
September 1979, when the U.S. Vela satellite detected the
distinctive flash of a nuclear explosion in the Indian
Ocean-Antarctic region near the coast of South Africa. The
news of the sighting did not break until 25 October, when an
ABC News broadcaster revealed it as information leaked to
him from a government source.

At that time, there were numerous statements, made by several sources, that South Africa, working in conjunction with Israel, had
detonated said atomic device on the night in question.

posted on Jun, 29 2010 @ 09:59 AM
reply to post by ThaLoccster

Thank you for the reply. I wrote a thread on the Vela Incident back in 2009:

The Vela Incident - ATS Thread

It is amazing how recent events are dredging up the incidents from the past.

posted on Aug, 28 2011 @ 11:30 AM
I have read all the posts re: Cuito Cuenavale and the supposed use of nuclear weapons. Unfortunately you have not looked at all the available sources.

The reality of this battle was that both sides (SADF/Unita versus Cuba/MPLA) claim victory, but none can. The historical fact around this battle has since degenerated into political propaganda. Campbell is a socialist that writes from a specific ideological point of view, and to even quote Casto is ridiculous.

South Africa's involvement in the Angolan conflict ended with the acceptance of resolution 435. Negotiations was underway while the battle was still being thought. The question then would be, why would South Africa use on of only 6 nuclear bombs in its arsenal to derail negotiations ? It would have alienated the few allies they did have and the US would have withdrawn their backing of Unita (and the SADF).

The truth was that the battle reached a stalemate and that the opposing groups were all trying to safe face and were desperately seeking to find "honourable" ways to withdraw.

Interesting enough, MK took no part in the battle, yet they were one of the groups that claimed "victory" and attended the 20 year celebrations.

The truth is unfortunately one of the first casualties of war. I suggest you go and read wider. Read both sides' version of the battle an using the facts available and some logical reasoning you will come to one conclusion:
You can't believe anything you read, especially not the internet.

I want to end of the following food for thought : The South African army has been in the hands of the ANC government for the past 17 years. Why are the official orders and documents pertaining to the battle still classified ? March orders, unit orders could easily show the following:

1) Number of SADF soldiers and units that took part in the battle.
2). Soldiers and equipment lost - could prove or disprove claims made by both sides.
3) Orders issued - this could show the actual objectives of the SADF. Was it to take Cuito, or was it to prevent UNITA from being overrun.

The Cubans have made a lot of claims on the casualties and equipment losses they inflicted on the SADF. The fact is that they have not been able to prove any of these claims. One of the more infamous examples of disinformation was the number of G6 self propelled howitzers they claimed to have destroyed. They claimed a kill tally of 17. The truth is that there were 6 units in total in action at Cuito, all pre-production models.

On the SADF side they claimed that the destruction of Cuito was imminent, when in truth the real fighting has only begun.

I can go on and on, but I have to admit a bit of bias on my side. All I can ask is that if you are truly interested in understanding the truth, you must read as wide as possible. Some of the Soviet advisers wrote their memoirs on the Angolan conflict and it is interesting to note that their reflections differ a lot from the propaganda of the Cubans.

posted on Aug, 28 2011 @ 03:34 PM
reply to post by TheTruthSA

Thanks for your post. I was in 10 Anti Aircraft Regiment but was an instructor and I never went North. I had a lot of chats with come of the vets from 32 Battalion - tell you the truth, I was secretly glad I never went into combat. My conscience is clear, and I was drafted (at the age of 17 I should have been learning about life - not death) so my allegiance was a little shaky when it came to supporting a government that was clearly wrong.

History is written by the victors. Sad but true, It takes people from both sides to fully paint both sides of story.

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