SA argues for safe use of nuclear

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Efforts to strengthen nuclear security should not hamper the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful means, says Energy Deputy Minister Thembi Majola.

“While we continue to intensify our efforts to strengthen nuclear security, we should be mindful that for the global nuclear security system to be truly effective, it needs to be comprehensive. Similarly, nuclear security should not hamper the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.”

Addressing the 62nd session of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) general conference in Vienna on Monday, Majola said South Africa attaches great importance to nuclear security and is appreciative of the role played by the IAEA in supporting member states, upon request, to develop national security plans as well as coordinate the global nuclear security efforts.

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

Majola said South Africa -- whose plans are at an advanced stage to update its Integrated Nuclear Security Support Plan and the ratification of the Amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material -- is pleased with the support of the agency it has received.

South Africa, Majola said, is committed to attaining the highest standards of safety possible for its nuclear facilities. The country has its Koeberg nuclear plant located in the Western Cape.

“In this context, we continue to support the objectives of the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS). Furthermore, South Africa welcomes efforts undertaken by the agency in encouraging member states to become contracting parties to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, and to actively promote the objectives thereof.”

“We particularly welcome that since 2015, the number of contracting parties has increased,” she said.

Non-proliferation efforts

Majola welcomed developments around the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA) between Iran and the EU3+3 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the US), saying it is crucial to non-proliferation efforts and to peace and security in the Middle East.

Signed in 2015, the plan saw Iran agreeing to limit its uranium enrichment activities.

“We thus welcome the various IAEA reports which confirm Iran’s compliance with its nuclear related obligations in terms of the agreement. We urge all signatories to work tirelessly towards the preservation of this historic agreement,” Majola said.

Focusing her attention on North Korea, Majola said the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula remains one of the key challenges facing society today.

“The resolution of this deadlock is an important matter that will go a long way not only towards enhancing peace and security in that region but also strengthen the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. South Africa supports all diplomatic efforts and initiatives aimed at resolving this long outstanding issue,” she said. -