Support by the International Community for Countries who want to Develop Nuclear Technology for Peaceful Purposes






Whether the international community will permit and support countries who want to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details? N1990E


All States have the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) states that nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of the Treaty.

Under Article IV, all the Parties to the Treaty undertake to "facilitate, and have the right to participate in the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy". This Article further states that parties to the Treaty in a position to do so "shall also cooperate in contributing alone or together with other States or international organizations to the further development of the applications of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, especially in the territories of non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty, with due consideration for the needs of the developing areas of the world".

At various international fora, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), South Africa has consistently supported the inalienable right of all States Parties of the NPT in conformity with their obligations under the Treaty to exercise their right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

However, despite the explicit provisions of the NPT regarding the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, a number of proposals have been made or are being advanced by some States Parties to the Treaty that may curtail this inalienable right. These proposals are part of a strenuous international campaign with significant pressure being exerted on non-nuclear-weapon States. During 2004, a number of specific proposals were made by the major world powers to restrict enrichment and reprocessing activities to those countries that already had operational facilities. These proposals were made in the name of non-proliferation due to the inherent dual-use nature of such capabilities that can be used for both peaceful and non-peaceful means. South Africa opposed these proposals on the basis that they are discriminatory and infringe on the inalienable right of states. More recently certain proposals have also been made in the context of the IAEA, including a six-nation initiative on the creation of a fuel supply mechanism through which states would give up their right to the development of a domestic fuel cycle in exchange of the reliable supply of nuclear fuel. Similar proposals were also made during a Symposium that took place in the margins of the September 2006 IAEA General Conference.

For South Africa, the solution to preventing the possible diversion of such sensitive technologies to non-peaceful activities is not in restricting the inalienable right of States, but in the strengthening of the IAEA's safeguards system and in the complete and verifiable elimination of all nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

Copies of recent South African statements at the relevant international meetings and symposiums are available from the Parliamentary Office.

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa