Iran to resume ties with South Africa

LONDON, May 6 -- Iran said Thursday it is resuming diplomatic relations with South Africa 15 years after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini severed all ties with the old apartheid regime.

Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was the biggest supplier of crude oil to South Africa and received favored treatment from the white minority government, which bestowed the status of 'honorary whites' on Iranian visitors to the country.


When Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the Shah's regime in 1979, he cut off diplomatic relations with South Africa and stopped oil shipments to the country.

The ban was further reinforced when the international community, led by the United States, began trade sanctions against South Africa in 1985 to pressure the minority government to end its apartheid policies.

The Iranian news agency IRNA said the diplomatic relations between the two countries would be re-established as of May 10 'following the historic victory of the black majority in the country's first multi- racial elections this week, which put an end to apartheid and its racist policies.'

A joint statement released simultaneously in Tehran and Johannesburg followed talks between South African Foreign Ministry officials and the Iranian interests section at the Swiss Embassy in Pretoria, IRNA said. Switzerland has been looking after Iranian interests in South Africa.


Business sources in London said the resumption of ties would enable Iran to regularize its oil trade with South Africa.

'All the while that it's been under sanctions, South Africa has been receiving its oil needs from the Middle East through third parties,' said one expert. 'Now it can negotiate the best possible terms.'

Before the victory secured by African National Congress in this week's election, Iranian Islamic organizations already had developed close ties with Muslim institutions in South Africa, diplomatic sources said.

'These ties no doubt will be strengthened by the resumption of normal diplomatic exchanges,' said one source.

Latest Headlines