Zuma highlights need for nuclear terrorism vigilance

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has stressed the importance of remaining alert to the risks posed by nuclear terrorism.

Speaking at the Leaders' Working Dinner at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea, on Monday, Zuma warned against complacency.

"We should remain vigilant of the continued risks posed by nuclear terrorism, the illicit nuclear network and criminal acts, and the use of nuclear or other radioactive material for malicious acts.

"We can, through a co-operative approach in the relevant multilateral organisations, effectively deal with these risks," he said.

Zuma noted that leaders were meeting at the summit with the common objective to achieve a world free of weapons of mass destruction, and in particular nuclear weapons.

"In our desire to create a forum to raise awareness on nuclear security; we cannot ignore the
reality that only the verifiable and irreversible elimination of nuclear weapons will ultimately prevent
the use of such weapons," he added.

Zuma also noted the necessity to fully implement relevant international legally binding obligations on nuclear security and nuclear safety.

Such an approach proved invaluable when South Africa hosted the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup.

"Let me take this opportunity to thank the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Government of the United States of America for their assistance in facilitating the implementation of nuclear security measures at the different World Cup venues, thereby contributing to its great success," he said.

On the issue of highly enriched uranium (HEU), Zuma acknowledged that HEU and separated plutonium required special precautions, adding that South Africa had taken such precautions.

"Our international legally binding obligations on nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation allow for the enrichment of uranium for peaceful purposes only, irrespective of the enrichment level. In this connection, South Africa has adopted a policy on the beneficiation of our mineral resources, including uranium."

South Africa believes that the focus on minimising the use of HEU in peaceful applications, which represents a tiny fraction of HEU used for military purposes, should come to fruition in the long outstanding negotiations on a fissile material treaty, he added.

These negotiations should commence in the Conference on Disarmament without further delay.

"Going forward, we believe that the best approach would be to address the issues of nuclear safety and nuclear security in a coherent manner. Therefore, our future emphasis should be on supporting the work on nuclear safety and security undertaken by existing multilateral organizations such as the IAEA," he said.