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19 July 2011

US offered to guard Pelindaba: Peters

Cape Town - South Africa declined an offer from the US government to deploy soldiers at the Pelindaba Nuclear Research plant near Pretoria after a 2007 break-in because it seemed to be a purely criminal matter, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said on Tuesday.

"Such an offer was indeed received by the former department of foreign affairs. The offer was declined because the proposed intervention was unnecessary," she said in reply to a parliamentary question from the Democratic Alliance.

"No South African troops were deployed at Pelindaba either."

Peters said four intruders cut the perimeter fence at Pelindaba on November 8. They broke into a garage and removed a ladder which they then used to climb into a first floor window.

The burglars attacked two staff and shot and injured one of them, before fleeing with their cellphones.

They were never caught but since they stole the phones and tried to steal a computer which contained no sensitive information, it seemed that their motive was theft not terrorism, the minister said.

"It is more likely that they were criminals as opposed to terrorists."

She said since the incident, security at the site had been "significantly upgraded".

- SAPA