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Digital Archive International History Declassified

March 08, 1994

LETTER, SOUTH AFRICAN AMBASSADOR R. F. BOTHA

This document was made possible with support from the Leon Levy Foundation, Carnegie Corporation

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    "Letter, South African Ambassador R. F. Botha," March 08, 1994, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, South African Foreign Affairs Archives, BTS, 32.2, Vol 1, Vol 2, AI 1994, Vol 3, Armscor, Krygkor Vol. 1, 1 April 93 - 30 Jul 1994. Obtained and contributed by Anna-Mart van Wyk, Monash South Africa. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/116081
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To:        MA792                 E                 NON PROLIFERATION AND DISARMAMENT

              MA793                 E                 Sub-dir: Non-Proliferation and Disarm

FROM:   MA79                 E                 Sub-dir: Nuclear, Military Liaison and [Word unclear]

DATE:     8 MARCH 1994

FOR INFO AND FILING PLEASE. THANKS PETER

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                                                                                                                                                7 March 1994

Dear Colleague

ISC – COURT CASE

With reference to the meeting held on 15 February 1994 with the State president and the decision to request Ambassador Schwartz in Washington to make a full analysis of the situation and to provide me with such, allow me to bring you up to speed with developments in this regard.

Parallel to Ambassador Schwarz’s talks with the American Department of State, I authorised, with your approval, Ambassador Schwarz to let Mr Philip Hare (legal representative of the Embassy in Washington) get in touch with the Philadelphia state prosecutors to hold exploratory talks (without compromising anyone or to perform any negotiations). The most important points of Ambassador Schwarz’s report on his talks with the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Mr George Moose, is hereto attached as appendix A and for background Mr Hare’s report on his exploratory talks with the state prosecutors is attached as appendix B.

During the talks between Mr J Moolman and Mr T de Waal from Armscor and my Director-General, Mr LH Evans, held on 24 January 1994, it was proposed that you direct a letter to Miss J Reno, US Attorney General, to confirm the willingness of the government’s full co-operation in the ISC court case. My department consulted with Ambassador Schwarz in this regard and although he agrees with the concept of a letter directed to Miss Reno, he made the following suggestions:

  1. That you in the meantime direct a letter to him (Ambassador Schwarz) where in you inform him that:
  1. Mr Barry Simon, Armscor’s US legal representative, be withdrawn for the moment from the negotiations process and thus he has no mandate to act on behalf of Armscor and the government (Ambassador Schwarz wants to present this letter to the prosecutors and the Department of Justice to emphasise the seriousness of the government’s involvement in this matter);
  2. Authorisation be granted to Mr Hare to negotiate (with the state prosecutors); and
  3. You in terms of the American diplomatic note dated 5 January 1994 confirm to Ambassador Schwarz that “the Government of South Africa wishes to clarify its position on the resolution of the Armscor matter and states that it will offer co-operation” and that an undertaking in good faith be given by the South African government to negotiate in this regard. 
  1. A meeting be arranged between Mr Hare and the state prosecutors with the aim to convince them to reduce the demands made by the US and also to present your letter to Ambassador Schwartz. 
  2. Ambassador Schwartz continue to arrange an appointment with the officials of the US Department of Justice. 
  3. Once informal assurances are received from the prosecutors / Department of Justice that the proposed content of your letter to Miss Reno is acceptable, that your letter be send to Miss Reno. 
  4. Any documentation to assist the US Justice authorities and related to the ISC – court case, will only be made available after the meeting between yourself and the Attorney General.

With reference to sub paragraph 4 above I took the liberty to attach hereto a concept letter to Miss Reno for your consideration. (Appendix C)

 Although the above mentioned suggestions and specifically the approach that you direct a letter to Miss Reno, differs from the US state prosecutors’ suggestion of a comprehensive undertaking of good faith, I am of the opinion that the handling of the matter on government level in this current time frame has become essential. Your letter to Miss Reno would then be against the background that the decision of the South African Government to co-operate in good faith was a political decision and that this should be conveyed by you to the US Attorney General along the formal intergovernmental channel.

Against the background of the decision to temporary postpone the signing of the MTCR related bilateral agreement with the USA, I am of the opinion that wrt the above mentioned and in light of the other factors discussed in the meeting with the State President, the signing should proceed as a matter of urgency. Given the government’s willingness to act in good faith in the court case, the withholding of signature of the agreement is no longer deemed as a credible bargaining tool. My department is ready to facilitate the signing and I would like to continue with that. I am awaiting your urgent input should you not agree.

A copy of this letter is send for information to the State President and Minister DJ de Villiers.

Kind regards

R F Botha

Mr H.J. Coetzee
Minister of Justice and Defence
Room 8.10, Presidia Building
Corner of Paul Kruger and Pretorius Street
0001 Pretoria

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