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UN Security Council
Resolution 418
ARA Drummond (formerly SAS Good Hope), an D'Estienne d'Orves class corvette whose sale to South Africa was blocked by UNSCR 418
Date 4 November 1977
Meeting no. 2,046
Code S/RES/409 (Document)
Subject South Africa
Voting summary
15 voted for
None voted against
None abstained
Result Adopted
Security Council composition
Permanent members
  •  China
  •  France
  •  United Kingdom
  •  United States
  •  Soviet Union
Non-permanent members
  •  Benin
  •  Canada
  •  India
  •  Libya
  •  Mauritania
  •  Pakistan
  •  Panama
  •  Romania
  •  Venezuela
  •  West Germany

United Nations Security Council Resolution 418, adopted unanimously on 4 November 1977, imposed a mandatory arms embargo against South Africa.[1] 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:

The embargo was lifted by Resolution 919[6] 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.


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
  • The nuclear weapons programme reached its peak during the embargo; According to David Albright, components for the programme were imported without the knowledge of the international community, or put to ingenious uses that had not been envisaged by the enforcers of the ban.[5]

Dual purpose equipment

Computer and air traffic control radar systems ostensibly destined for civilian use were diverted to the military.[7]

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.[7]

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, the R4 assault rifle and Atlantis Diesel Engines.

Co-operation with other states

South Africa exchanged military technology with other states in a similar position to itself, notably through the Israel–South Africa Agreement.[8]

See also


  1. "Resolution 418". United Nations. November 4, 1977. 
  2. "Victor Moukambi dissertation.doc". University of Stellenbosch. 2008-10-13.,%20V.pdf. Retrieved 2009-02-27. [dead link]
  3. Andre Wessels (20 April 2007). "The South African Navy During The Years of Conflict In Southern Africa, 1966-1989". Sabinet Online Ltd. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  4. Hilton Hamann (2001). Days of the Generals. South Africa: Zebra. pp. p99. ISBN 1-86872-340-2. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 David Albright (July 1994). "South Africa and the Affordable Bomb". pp. 37–47.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Albright" defined multiple times with different content
  6. "Resolution 919". United Nations. May 26, 1994. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Geldenhuys, Deon (1990). Isolated States: A Comparative Analysis. Cambridge University Press. 
  8. "Africa Review". National Security Archive. 1981-06-08. Retrieved 2008-08-26. 

External links

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