United Nations Security Council Resolution 418

United Nations Security Council Resolution 418

United Nations Security Council Resolution 418, passed on 4 November 1977, imposed a mandatory arms embargo against apartheid South Africa [cite web|url=http://daccess-ods.un.org/TMP/4247422.html|title=Resolution 418|date=November 4, 1977|publisher=United Nations] . This resolution differed from the earlier Resolution 282, which was only voluntary. The embargo was subsequently tightened and extended by Resolution 591.


The ban had a direct impact in some of the following ways:
* Last minute cancellation of the sale of Aviso corvettes and Agosta submarines by France.cite journal|url=http://search.sabinet.co.za/images/ejour/contemp/contemp_v31_n3_a15.pdf|title=The South African Navy During The Years of Conflict In Southern Africa, 1966-1989|date=20 April 2007|author=Andre Wessels|accessdate=2008-05-12|publisher= [http://sabinet.co.za Sabinet Online Ltd] ]
* The purchase of Strike Craft from Israel, some of which had to be built covertly in South Africa instead.
* South Africa's inability to purchase modern fighter aircraft to counter the air superiority of Cuban Mig 23's over the SAAF in the South African Border War. [cite book|title=Days of the Generals|author=Hilton Hamann|date=2001|publisher=Zebra|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=mYgWcHq8lE8C|isbn=1868723402|location=South Africa|accessdate=2008-05-12|pages=p99]
* The growth of the modern day multi-billion dollar South African arms industry.

The embargo was lifted by Resolution 919 [cite web|url=http://daccess-ods.un.org/TMP/8984326.html|title=Resolution 919|date=May 26, 1994|publisher=United Nations] following democratic elections in 1994.

Circumvention of the Embargo

The apartheid government worked around the embargo in a number of ways to source military technology and components that it was unable to procure openly. This resulted in United Nations Security Council Resolution 591 being passed in 1986, which tightened up some of the loopholes and extended the embargo.

Local production

Many armaments were wholly designed and manufactured in South Africa, as reflected by the growth and export business of Armscor.


Two notable operations that came to light were:
* The 1984 case of the Coventry Four. Four South African businessmen in the UK were found to be operating a front company on the behalf of Kentron that was sourcing materiel in defiance of the ban.
* The arrest and imprisonment of Gerald Bull for developing the G5 howitzer for Armscor

Dual purpose equipment

Computer and air traffic control radar systems ostensibly destined for civilian use were diverted to the military.

Use of foreign specialists

The South African government was able to hire the services of foreign technicians, for example Israeli specialists who had worked on the Lavi fighter aircraft were recruited by Atlas Aircraft Corporation to work on the Atlas Cheetah and Atlas CAVA.cite book|title=Isolated States: A Comparative Analysis|last=Geldenhuys|first=Deon|publisher=Cambridge University Press|date=1990]

Licensed production

In somes cases, foreign armaments were simply produced under license in South Africa, as in the case of the Warrior Class Strike Craft and the R4 assault rifle.

Co-operation with other pariah states

South Africa exchanged military technology with other states in a similar position to itself, notably Israel. [cite web|publisher=National Security Archive|title=Africa Review|date=1981-06-08|url=http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB181/sa25.pdf|accessdate=2008-08-26]

See also

* United Nations Security Council Resolution 181
* History of South Africa in the Apartheid era
* Armscor (South Africa)
* Denel


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