Arms committee probing Iran claims
Cape Town - The National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) is investigating a weekend newspaper report that South Africa has been exporting attack helicopters to Iran through an elaborate set of front companies.
Individuals and companies mentioned in the Sunday Times newspaper's report were being investigated, Vanessa du Toit, a director at the NCACC inspectorate, told Parliament's joint standing committee on defence on Thursday.
"We have already started investigations against the companies mentioned and individuals mentioned. We will report back to NCACC should we find any contravention of the NCACA (National Conventional Arms Control Act)."
According to the article, a Canadian company, Eagle Copters, would buy 1979 Bell 212 helicopters from Hudson Flight LLC in Texas, the USA. Eagle Copters would then sell the Bell 212 helicopters to a Johannesburg registered front company called Gemini Moon 477.
The helicopters would be taken to OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg aboard Dutch airline KLM.
Once the helicopters were in South Africa, they would be deregistered and then re-registered, with Iran as the end-user. They would then be shipped abroad on a Russian cargo aircraft.
According to the report, "a big factory in Tehran" was using reverse-engineered helicopter parts for the military. The parts would most probably be used in military attack helicopters.
Reverse engineering involves analysing or taking a piece of equipment apart, with the aim of making a duplicate.
Justice Minister Jeff Radebe told the committee South Africa did not allow any exports of "equipment" to Iran.
"We do not authorise any equipment to Iran because in the main there are United Nations Security Council sanctions against Iran, so we do not do that as a matter of course," he said.