How nuclear energy can assist countries' goals

Friday, September 22, 2017

The 61st Session of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference has focused on how nuclear energy can assist member states in attaining their national and regional development goals.

The week-long conference that got underway on Monday in Vienna, Austria, reflected on the progress made since the previous General Conference.

Energy Deputy Minister Thembi Majola said the conference has reflected on measures to strengthen the safety and security of nuclear facilities and radioactive material, as well as efforts to ensure that member states’ nuclear material are only utilised for peaceful purposes.

South Africa is currently the Chair of the IAEA Board of Governors for the period 2016 - 2017.

“Significantly the General Conference coincides with the opening for signature today and ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in New York. This Treaty represents a historical milestone in global efforts to establish and maintain a nuclear weapons free world,” said Deputy Minister Majola on Thursday.

In her address to the conference earlier in the week, the Deputy Minister congratulated the IAEA for its continuous efforts in assisting member states to use nuclear science and technology for their socio-economic development.

The IAEA, of which South Africa is a member, works with its member states and multiple partners worldwide to promote the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies.

The Deputy Minister applauded the IAEA for its efforts through the Technical Cooperation Programme in applying the latest techniques in nuclear science to mitigate the effects of diseases that affect wildlife, livestock and humans.

She further noted the organisation’s ongoing project to renovate its Nuclear Application Laboratories which are based in Seibersdorf, Austria.

Through these laboratories the IAEA offers advance training, research and development opportunities to scientists and experts particularly from the developing countries.

The conference has affirmed the central role nuclear energy plays in enhancing global energy capacity.

In addition, the conference highlighted amongst others, the trend which demonstrates the increasing number of countries that are utilising nuclear power to diversify their energy mix.

In its report entitled “International Status and Prospects for Nuclear Power 2017”, the IAEA illustrated that the worldwide demand for nuclear power is on a positive trajectory with 447 nuclear power reactors operational in 30 countries, and 60 under construction in 15 countries.

On the margins of the conference, Deputy Minister Majola also met with the Director General of the IAEA Yukiya Amano, where she congratulated him on his re-appointment as Director General.

The Deputy Minister also met with the Minister of Mines and Energy of Namibia Obeth Kandjoze to discuss issues of mutual interest between the two countries.

Deputy Minister Majola participated in a high level panel on the added value of gender parity focusing on the role women nuclear professionals, including young aspirants, play in the nuclear science, technology and engineering fields.

The conference concludes on Friday. –

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