October 9, 2002

SOUTH AFRICA: Iraqi arms deal allegations rejected

South Africa, as a matter of policy, would not sell or provide military equipment or technologies used in developing weapons of mass destruction to any country deemed to be posing a proliferation risk, the SA Council for the Non-proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction said on Wednesday, October 9.

The Council - a statutory body advising the Trade and Industry ministry on regulating weapons of mass destruction - was reacting to last week's allegations by two foreign publications that South Africa was selling equipment used to develop nuclear weapons to Iraq. The Council's chairman Abdul Minty said in a statement the body had, up to now, not approved any exports of controlled goods, including special aluminium tubes that could be used for uranium enrichment, to Iraq. Minty added that no enquiry about such aluminium tubes been received via the South African Embassy in Amman or from anyone else. "If any proof or evidence of such exports exist, the Council would appreciate such information for investigation," he said.

The publications, Britain's “The Spectator” and America's “Insight on the New”, ran articles alleging that South Africa was selling aluminium tubes for uranium centrifuges to Iraq, and that the First Secretary at the South African Embassy in Jordan was acting as the local sales representative to Iraqi procurement agents.

But the allegations have since been dismissed by South Africa's Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad as "nonsense" and aimed at discrediting former President Nelson Mandela for his public criticism of the two countries' plans to attack Iraq.

Minty said that in February this year, the Council considered an export of Rift Valley Fever vaccines to a United Kingdom company for inclusion in test kits to be used by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation in Iraq. "This export took place on the basis of an approval from the UN Security Council." The Minister of Trade and Industry had since October 1994 published various notices in the Government Gazette regulating weapons of mass destruction and related goods, Minty said. (SAPA)

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