Media Statement

18 June 2017

SA-led June Session of the Board of Governors of the IAEA successfully concludes its deliberations

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors concluded its June week-long session on Thursday, 15 June 2017, under the leadership of Ambassador Tebogo Seokolo, South Africa’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) in Vienna.

One of the main highlights of this session was the adoption of the IAEA’s two-year Programme and Budget for the period 2018-2019. Negotiations for the budget started in early January 2017. In welcoming the adoption of the budget, Ambassador Seokolo thanked Member States for their cooperation and flexibility especially during this period when most countries are facing financial difficulties. In this regard, he stated that the “adoption of the budget is an expression of the commitment of Member States to the work of the organisation in keeping with its motto of Atoms for Peace and Development”.

The adoption of the IAEA budget will enable it to continue to discharge its mandate, which among others is to support its Members to utilise nuclear science and technology to meet their developmental needs and priorities. In this context, the IAEA assists developing countries, including those on the African Continent, in efforts to eradicate malaria, diseases associated with tsetse flies, and Ebola, among others. Additionally, the IAEA, using nuclear techniques, plays a prominent role in detecting and treating animal diseases (zoonotic), which impact directly on human health. Furthermore, the IAEA contributes greatly to harnessing the power of the atom in advancing food security, industrial applications, agricultural production and water resource management.

Other key outcomes of this session of the Board included the adoption of the IAEA Annual Report for 2016. This report highlights, among others, the contribution of nuclear energy to electricity generation. It is indicated in the report that there are currently 449 nuclear power reactors in 30 countries and the installed nuclear capacity is now the highest it has ever been at 392 gigawatts electrical. 20 new reactors were connected to the grid in the last two years, the highest number since the 1980s, while 60 power reactors are being built around the world, mostly around Asia. These advanced nuclear reactors are safer and more reliable and will assist to meet the energy needs of countries as well as further reduce greenhouse emissions.

The report also reflects on the IAEA’s verification tasks in support of advancing its nuclear non-proliferation role. In this regard, the report highlights that much work has been undertaken by the organisation in ensuring that nuclear material in peaceful programmes was not diverted to the development of nuclear weapons.  Furthermore, the Board acknowledged the positive progress on the implementation of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council (P5+1), namely China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America; plus Germany. Similarly, the Board also exchanged views on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Syria.

The Board of Governors is the major policy-making organ of the IAEA between its annual General Conferences. Ambassador Seokolo was elected to Chair the Board of Governors of the IAEA on behalf of South Africa for the period October 2016 to October 2017. South Africa is an active and highly regarded Member State of the IAEA due to the development of its peaceful nuclear programme. Through the power plant in Koeberg, the country generates 5% of total electricity supply from nuclear. South Africa is also the second largest producer of medical isotopes, which are used in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Through its research reactor, SAFARI-1, which has for over 50 years operated safely, securely and reliably, South Africa exports this life-saving treatment to over 60 countries the world-over.

Enquiries: Mr Clayson Monyela, 082 884 5974

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