Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Africa, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, at the Opening of the Plenary of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Cape Town, 19 April 2007


Chairperson,
Distinguished Delegates,

It is an honour and a privilege for me to welcome you to South Africa for the 2007 Plenary meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Allow me to extend a special and warm welcome to all delegates and to express the hope that you will not only engage in fruitful and productive discussions during the Plenary, but that you have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy your stay in our beautiful city, Cape Town.

May I also take this opportunity to thank Ambassador Jose Artur Denot Medeiros for his dedication and hard work during his tenure as Chair of the NSG. Brazil and South Africa have excellent bilateral relations and our co-operation extends to other collaborative forums such as the India-Brazil-South Africa Forum (IBSA) and our pursuit of nuclear disarmament through the New Agenda Coalition (NAC). As Brazil will continue to be a member of the NSG Troika during the next year, we look forward to continuing our close working relationship in this forum. We also wish to thank Germany for its kind offer to host the 2008 NSG Plenary.

Distinguished Delegates,

As we meet here today to consider how to further strengthen the controls on the export of nuclear and nuclear-related material, equipment and technology, it is imperative that we do not loose sight of the many people around the world that continue to live in abject poverty. Many countries are not on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals, including on our own African continent. Our efforts in the NSG should therefore contribute to creating a better life for all and not hinder international co-operation on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, which potentially could strengthen and accelerate the economic development of the economically marginalized parts of the world.

The reliance on fossil fuels as sources of energy has imposed constraints on our development now and in the future. There are many initiatives to develop alternative sources of energy and in this regard there is an increasing recognition of the role that nuclear energy can play in meeting the energy requirements of the 21st Century. This has resulted in many countries reviewing their national energy policies.

This renewed international focus on the expansion of nuclear energy as renewable energy source not only requires increased international co-operation to ensure the safety, security and peaceful use of nuclear energy, but also impacts on the work of the NSG and its objective of fostering strengthened national export controls through the wider implementation of comprehensive and effective controls on the transfer of nuclear-related materials.

South Africa has consistently maintained the view that the ownership of advanced capabilities that could be used for both peaceful and non-peaceful purposes places a special responsibility on the States concerned to build confidence with the international community that would remove any concerns about any potential nuclear weapon proliferation. There is wide recognition that confidence is at the heart of all nuclear issues. It requires all sides to act in a manner that instills confidence. This places a special responsibility also on the NSG to undertake its work in a transparent manner that will instill confidence in its decisions and take into full consideration the needs and aspirations of non-NSG Partners. We should continue to guard against negative perceptions that the NSG only advances the interests of its own members to the exclusion of others.

Distinguished Delegates,

The activities of the illicit network in nuclear technology to manufacture nuclear weapons will continue to impact on the work of the NSG. It is incumbent upon all of us to continuously review and improve controls over nuclear material, technologies and equipment to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation and illicit trafficking.

Our experience has, however, shown that no control regime, no matter how comprehensive, can fully guarantee against abuse. The success of such controls remains dependent on effective information-sharing and co-operation among the relevant parties. We should also recognize the central role that the IAEA can play in addressing this illicit trade and we should consider how we can support the IAEA in this regard.

Distinguished Delegates,

Whilst South Africa is committed to the continuous review and strengthening of measures aimed at preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, we believe that real progress in securing our world from the threat of nuclear weapons can only be achieved through concomitant progress in the area of nuclear disarmament.

Nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation are mutually reinforcing processes that require continuous and irreversible progress on both fronts. It is only through full compliance by all States with their respective legal obligations in the areas of non-proliferation and disarmament that peaceful uses of nuclear energy can thrive for the benefit of all.

The democratically elected South African Government has therefore since its inauguration in May 1994, committed itself to a policy of non-proliferation, disarmament and arms control, which covers all weapons of mass destruction and extends to concerns relating to the proliferation of conventional weapons.

In this context the Government at that early stage already adopted a policy whereby South Africa should be an active participant in the various non-proliferation regimes and suppliers groups; adopt positions publicly supporting the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction with the goal of promoting international peace and security; and use its position as a member of the suppliers' regimes and of the Africa Group and the Non-aligned Movement to promote the importance of non-proliferation and to ensure that these controls do not become the means whereby developing countries are denied access to advanced technologies required for their development.

Distinguished Delegates,

South Africa is honoured with the confidence you have shown by bestowing on us the responsibility to chair the NSG for the next year. With your co-operation and assistance we will together achieve our goals.

I wish you success in concluding this Plenary meeting.

I thank you.

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