Apartheid arms deals haunt new regime
Monday 15 July 1996
If Mr Mbeki fails, President Nelson Mandela's government could find itself in the odd position of having to stand up in a US court to defend Armscor, a principal instrument of oppression under apartheid, over "crimes" committed before President Mandela was even released from prison.
"We are being asked to take responsibility for the sins of a previous discredited regime," said an Mbeki spokesman at the weekend.
The South African government argues that America should abandon the case. But Washington insists it cannot interfere in the process of a 1991 indictment against Armscor through the US courts. PW Botha, leader of the government under which the sanctions-busting is claimed to have taken place, must be smirking at the political impasse reached by two parties he never did care for - Mr Mandela's African National Congress and the US government.
The US indictment claims that Armscor, set up in 1977 to circumvent the United Nation's arms embargo against South Africa and wholly owned by the South African government, smuggled military technology from the US in the late 1980s. Evidence of the embargo breaches turned up during the Gulf war when the US parts were allegedly discovered in South African shells which had been sold to Iraq.
Large scale arms deals between South Africa and Iraq were alleged in a 1994 court action brought by Walid Saffouri, a Palestinian businessman, for breach of contract against Armscor. He claimed South Africa had sold $4.5bn (pounds 3bn) of equipment to Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war. Shady South African arms deals also featured in the Scott inquiry, Britain's investigation into its own arms to Iraq scandal.
The US is demanding that Armscor - and therefore the Mandela government - pay more than 35m rand in compensation or agree to US surveillance of its arms facilities. Pretoria is "insulted" at the implication that it cannot be trusted to monitor Armscor's activities in the new democratic South Africa.
It has also rejected an American suggestion that it make a special plea of "no contest" in court and pay a reduced fine. Mbeki officials say this would still involve South Africa submitting to the jurisdiction of US courts.
The dispute has threatened to sour relations between the two countries. Even a direct appeal from Mr Mandela to President Bill Clinton has failed to solve the crisis. South African ministers have threatened to reveal details of clandestine deals between the US and previous South African governments if the US does not drop the Armscor case.
Ronnie Kasrils, deputy defence minister, has aired South African defence industry suspicions that the US's real motive is to keep the country out of the lucrative international arms market.
- 1 Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 2 Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
- 3 George Galloway left with severe bruising after attack in Notting Hill by man 'shouting about the Holocaust'
- 4 Lady al-Qa’ida: On the trail of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the world’s most wanted prisoner
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
YouTube video posted by Isis militants shows 'execution of 250 Syrian soldiers'
Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
Oil tanker with $100 million cargo goes missing off Texas coast
George Galloway left with severe bruising after attack in Notting Hill by man 'shouting about the Holocaust'
A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
- < Previous
- Next >
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...
Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...
£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...