Status of the Bilateral Meetings between South Africa and Iran
FOR ORAL REPLY
QUESTION NO: 177
IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO 26 OF 29 AUGUST 2006
MR DHM GIBSON
(DA) TO ASK THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS:
(1) Whether she made use
of the recent bilateral meetings with the Iranian Foreign Minister to discuss
Iran's funding, support and arming of Hezbollah; if not, what is the position
in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details;
(2) Whether Iran
can pursue its nuclear programme without exciting suspicion that it is embarking
on a weapons development programme; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant
The issue of Iran's support
for Hezbollah was not discussed during my recent bilateral meetings with Mr. Manouchehr
Motakki, the Iranian Foreign Minister. Moreover, the South African Government
has no specific knowledge of Iran's funding of Hezbollah.
(2) Yes- If Iran
works closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and keep to the
safeguards. Iran has on various occasions stated at the IAEA Board Meetings and
during bilateral consultations that it will use its nuclear capabilities for peaceful
purposes only and has consistently denied that it has any nuclear weapons ambitions.
Although various allegations have been made regarding the nature of the Iranian
nuclear programme, it is important to note that the IAEA has not to date found
any evidence in Iran of the diversion of capabilities for non-peaceful activities.
South Africa's position on this matter can only be informed by the facts presented
and not by unverified allegations or suspicions. The Government will continue
to uphold the principles contained in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
that provides for the inalienable rights of all NPT State Parties to develop research,
production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, in conformity with
Articles I, II and III of the Treaty.
Iran's Relationship with Hezbollah
Prior to the rise
of the Shia in Iraq, Hezbollah was Iran's main asset in the Arab world. In fact,
it likely will continue to be used by Tehran as a key tool for furthering Iranian
geopolitical interests in the region, until such time as Shia power has been consolidated
in Baghdad and Iran's interests there secured.
In its earliest days, Hezbollah
was a classic militant organization -- the creation of the Islamic Revolutionary
Guard Corps (IRGC), the elite unit of the Iranian military. It was founded as
a way to export the ideals of Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini's Islamic revolution
to the Shia community of Lebanon, and served as a model for follow-on organizations
(some even using the same name) in other Arab states. It did not take long, however,
for Hezbollah to emerge in Lebanon as a guerrilla movement, whose fighters were
trained in conventional military tactics.
Iran has been Hezbollah's chief
source of funding and weapons over the years, and the Iranians continue to supply
extensive training in weapons, tactics, communications, surveillance and other
methods to the militant wing of Hezbollah in Lebanon. The relationship is sufficiently
close that the Hezbollah branch within Iran recently declared it would unleash
militant attacks against Israelis and Americans around the world if given the
order by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Tehran insists that Hezbollah
is not an arm of official policy.)
recent report of the IAEA Director-General is attached herewith.