History of Relations
Prior to the Iranian Revolution in 1979, South Africa and Iran maintained formal relations at the level of Consulates-General as well as good relations in the fields of trade, science and technology, defence, medicine, energy and mining. After the revolution in that country, Iran severed relations with South Africa in February 1979 and imposed a total trade boycott against South Africa by the promulgation of an Act in the Majlis (Iranian Parliament).
The new Iranian government also supported the South African liberation movements.
Between 1979 and 1994 South Africa and Iran maintained reciprocal Interest Sections under the protection of the Swiss Government.
In June 1993 the Iranian Representative in Berne, Ambassador Mohammed Reza Alborzi, informed the South African Ambassador that the Iranian Government was considering re-establishing contact with South Africa on a wide front.
Iran lifted all trade and economic sanctions against South Africa in January 1994 and stated that this was the first step in the progressive normalisation of relations between the two states. On 16 February 1994 the Iranian Embassy in Berne informed the South African Embassy that Iran was desirous of establishing diplomatic relations with South Africa.
Ambassador Mohammed Sharif Mahdavi was the first Iranian Ambassador to South Africa after the resumption of diplomatic relations. In turn, Ambassador Moosa Moolla was the first South African head of mission in Tehran after the resumption of ties.