Publication: News24 Issued: Date: 2004-07-21 Reporter: Jannie Momberg, Sapa

SA Can Sell Arms To US




Date 2004-07-21


Jannie Momberg, Sapa

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Pretoria - The conclusion of a protracted legal dispute between South African defence industry firms and the United States will improve defence trade between the two countries, US ambassador Cameron Hume said on Wednesday.

"South African companies now have an open field in the American defence industry," he told reporters in Pretoria.

The dispute arose when Armscor and Denel, South Africa's large parastatal defence firms, and a private firm, Fuchs Electronics, were indicted in the United States in 1991 for violations of US export control laws.

It was alleged that between 1978 and 1989 - during the United Nations embargo on the sale of arms to the apartheid regime - Armscor and other indicted parties established front companies to acquire US arms, munitions and weapons technology without obtaining the Required Licences Or The Approval Of The State Department.

In 1996, the South African and US governments negotiated settlements for both the criminal and civil cases brought against the companies.

It was announced on Wednesday that all the legal work had been completed and that South African companies dealing in the weapons industry would now enjoy a level playing field.

"In the past as a result of the legal dispute deals negotiated were looked at twice by regulating bodies and stood the chance of being turned down," Hume explained. He said the conclusion of the dispute was like the dissipating of a dark cloud that had been hovering over industrial co-operation between the two countries.

With acknowledgements to Jannie Momberg, Sapa and News24.