1975. Two defence ministers - one named Botha, the other Peres - meet to seal a pact. The South African asked for nuclear warheads. The Israeli, today's prime minister, responded, offering them in "three sizes."
Secret, apartheid-era documents reviewed by The Guardian, confirm that Israel has a substantial nuclear arsenal:
"...Secret South African documents reveal that Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime, providing the first official documentary evidence of the state's possession of nuclear weapons.
The "top secret" minutes of meetings between senior officials from the two countries in 1975 show that South Africa's defence minister, PW Botha, asked for the warheads and Shimon Peres, then Israel's defence minister and now its president, responded by offering them "in three sizes". The two men also signed a broad-ranging agreement governing military ties between the two countries that included a clause declaring that "the very existence of this agreement" was to remain secret.
The documents, uncovered by an American academic, Sasha Polakow-Suransky, in research for a book on the close relationship between the two countries, provide evidence that Israel has nuclear weapons despite its policy of "ambiguity" in neither confirming nor denying their existence.
The Israeli authorities tried to stop South Africa's post-apartheid government declassifying the documents at Polakow-Suransky's request and the revelations will be an embarrassment, particularly as this week's nuclear non-proliferation talks in New York focus on the Middle East.
They will also undermine Israel's attempts to suggest that, if it has nuclear weapons, it is a "responsible" power that would not misuse them, whereas countries such as Iran cannot be trusted.
South African documents show that the apartheid-era military wanted the missiles as a deterrent and for potential strikes against neighbouring states.
These revelations ought to spark an international furor but, chances are, they won't. It's not as though Israel's nuclear programme has really escaped anyone's attention and a degree of military cooperation between apartheid South Africa and Israel was also understood. These documents suggest, however, that Israel was willing to proliferate nuclear warheads into southern Africa by putting them into the hands of the apartheid white movement.
That's not something you just brush off. Israel was totally willing to assist a regime oppressing its own majority people, its blacks, even to the point of transferring to it nuclear warheads.
The sad part is that, it could happen, isn't really that surprising.