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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Advena / Kentron Circle
2801'S 2544'E

In 1979, it was decided to transfer nuclear weapons production responsibility from the Pelindaba Nuclear Research Center to ARMSCOR (the State owned Armaments Corporation). This led to the construction of the Kentron Circle facility. Subsequently named Advena, this facility is located approximately 20km west of Pretoria. The Circle facility was constructed in 1980 and commissioned in May 1981. All previously manufactured hardware was transferred to this facility from the AEC facilities. It consisted of two unremarkable buildings located deep inside the boundaries of the ARMSCOR complex otherwise used for high-speed vehicle testing on various road surfaces.The work force grew to approximately 300 personnel in 1989 with roughly half involved with weapons production. Only 35 of the 100 personnel employed at Circle in the early 1980s actually built the weapons.

The Circle facility proceeded with the development and production of deliverable nuclear weapons based on the gun-type design developed at Pelindaba. ARMSCOR focused their efforts on producing a reliable gun-type device, without altering the original physics package provided by the AEC. A nuclear weapons production line was established at the Circle facility. ARMSCOR completed its first pre-production model in December 1982. With an estimated yield of 10-18 KT, the production version reportedly weighed approximately 1000 kg, had an overall length of 1.8 meters, and a diameter of 0.65 meters. Further devices followed at an orderly pace of less than one per year, matching the production schedule of the enrichment plant.

ARMSCOR did not place high priority on advanced weapon designs, although the facility was also equipped to conduct work on implosion weapons, including capability to develop test diagnostics, test cells to for explosives placement for core compression and metal machining equipment for the cores themselves.

Advena Central Laboratories

Work began on construction of ARMSCOR's Advena Central Laboratories in the mid-1980s. The facility was intended to expand nuclear delivery options to ballistic missiles. This new facility was equipped to accelerate work on advanced warhead designs. It also provided the capability to mount nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles, based on a collaborative effort with Israel to develop a 2000 km-range ballistic missile based on the Jericho II. Construction at this facility was completed just as the RSA nuclear program was terminated.




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