JOHANNESBURG --- South Africa aims to free up over a billion dollars in stalled weapons sales, including to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, by amending a document at the heart of an export row, a senior arms control official told Reuters.
Local defense firms have lobbied the government for months to change a clause in the export document requiring foreign customers to allow South African officials to inspect their facilities to verify that weapons aren’t being transferred to third parties.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE buy at least a third of South Africa’s arms exports and have been engaged in a war in Yemen. They refused to agree to the inspections because they considered them a violation of their sovereignty, industry officials told Reuters in November.
“I can confirm that the amendment of the end-user certificate was approved by the NCACC recently,” Ezra Jele, the head of the secretariat of South Africa’s National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), told Reuters.
A draft letter from Jele to a defense industry association obtained by Reuters and authenticated by two industry sources said the NCACC planned to replace a clause allowing for “on-site verification ... performed by an inspector designated by the (defense) minister.”
The new clause would state “on-site verification of the controlled items may be performed, through diplomatic process”. (end of excerpt)
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