South Africa is hoping to sell some R1.5 billion worth of weapons to Iran, including Umkhonto surface-to-air missiles.
This is according to an article published in Rapport, which says South Africa has requested permission from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to sell Iran the weapons.
The newspaper quotes Jeff Radebe, minister in the presidency and chairman of South Africa’s National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) as saying no agreement has been signed with Iran over the supply of weapons, but there are memorandums of understanding on future military cooperation. “There is an application (for the Security Council and the NCACC) to provide certain weapons,” he said.
The Department of International Relations and Cooperation is handling the negotiations as it deals with the UN Security Council.
“Foreign diplomatic sources” told Rapport that the UN is exhibiting “some discomfort” over the proposed sale, especially since incorrect specifications were given in the application, and the sale has to still be approved by the UN sanctions committee. Sanctions against Iran were recently lifted after it agreed to a nuclear oversight deal.
The Denel Dynamics Umkhonto (Spear) surface-to-air missile was originally developed with a 12 km range but this was increased to 15 km and Denel has demonstrated it can reach out to 20 km, with a ceiling of 8 000 metres. It reaches speeds of around Mach 2.5. In 2013 Denel Dynamics for the first time fired the weapon from land – the system was originally developed for naval applications.
Although it is primarily an anti-missile and anti-aircraft system, its 23 kg pre-fragmented warhead with an active proximity fuse makes it effective against surface targets like ships as well.
The vertically launched Umkhonto missile is installed aboard the SA Navy’s four Valour class frigates and is also in service with the Finnish navy aboard its Hamina fast attack craft and Hameenmaaa class minelayers and the Algerian Navy’s Meko A200 class frigates. It will be integrated into the South African Army’s Ground Based Air Defence System (GBADS).
Iran and South Africa have strengthened defence ties and on 13 December last year Iranian Defence Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan and his South African counterpart, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on defence co-operation between Iran and South Africa.
The Iranian naval logistics vessel Bushehr Bushehr and the destroyer Alvand arrived in Durban on 15 November following a port visit in Tanzania to mark completion of a counter-piracy tasking off the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden. In February 2016, Alvand met with the South African Navy frigate SAS Spioenkop at the International Fleet Review hosted by India. During its stop in South Africa, the Bushehr underwent unspecified repairs at a shipyard in Durban.