Most African states broke ties after the 1973 Yom Kippur war and the government in Jerusalem began to take a more benign view of the isolated regime in Pretoria." Ethan A. Nadelmann has claimed that the relationship developed due to the fact that many African countries broke diplomatic ties with Israel during the 70's following the Arab-Israeli wars, causing Israel to deepen relations with other isolated countries.
By the mid 1970s, Israel's relations with South Africa had warmed. In 1975, increasing economic co-operation between Israel and South Africa was reported, including the construction of a major new railway in Israel, and the building of a desalination plant in South Africa. In April 1976 South African Prime Minister John Vorster was invited to make a state visit, meeting Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.  Later in 1976, the 5th Conference of Non-Aligned Nations in Colombo, Sri Lanka, adopted a resolution calling for an oil embargo against France and Israel because of their arms sales to South Africa. In 1977, South African Foreign Minister Pik Botha visited Israel to discuss South African issues with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan.
In 1981, Israeli Defence Minister Ariel Sharon visited South African forces in Namibia for 10 days, later saying that South Africa needed more weapons to fight Soviet infiltration in the region.
In 1984, Pik Botha again visited Israel but this time only for an unofficial meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir.
By 1987 Israel found itself alone among the developed nations in still maintaining strong, even strategic relations with apartheid South Africa (Among African nations, only Malawi maintained diplomatic relations with South Africa throughout the Apartheid era ). On March 18, 1987 the Inner Cabinet of the Israeli government denounced the Apartheid policy of South Africa and limited Israel's security ties with Pretoria. On September 16, 1987 the Israeli Cabinet approved a series of measures designed to limit trade, sports and cultural ties with South Africa. Among them was a clause in the "measures" package stating that effective immediately, only colored, Indian and black students would be allowed to attend leadership courses held in Israel.
Nuclear collaborationMain article: South Africa and weapons of mass destruction
U.S. Intelligence believed that Israel participated in South African nuclear research projects and supplied advanced non-nuclear weapons technology to South Africa during the 1970s, while South Africa was developing its own atomic bombs. According to David Albright, "Faced with sanctions, South Africa began to organize clandestine procurement networks in Europe and the United States, and it began a long, secret collaboration with Israel." However, he goes on to say "A common question is whether Israel provided South Africa with weapons design assistance, although available evidence argues against significant cooperation." According to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, in 1977 Israel traded 30 grams of tritium in exchange for 50 tons of South African uranium and in the mid-80s assisted with the development of the RSA-3 ballistic missile. Also in 1977, according to foreign press reports, it was suspected that South Africa signed a pact with Israel that included the transfer of military technology and the manufacture of at least six atom bombs.
Chris McGreal has claimed that "Israel provided expertise and technology that was central to South Africa's development of its nuclear bombs". In 2000, Dieter Gerhardt, Soviet spy and former commander in the South African Navy, claimed that Israel agreed in 1974 to arm eight Jericho II missiles with "special warheads" for South Africa.
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