Statement by Republic of South Africa delivered by the Minister of Energy, Mr Dikobe Benedict Martins on the occasion of the 57th Session of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference, Vienna, 16th to 20th September 2013
Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen
Allow me on behalf of the South African Government to congratulate you on the occasion of your election as president of the 57th General Conference. We have every confidence that under your skilful guidance, the conference will achieve its set objectives.
I would like to congratulate Brunei Darussalam and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas on their admission to the Agency, which would further strengthen the work of the Agency.
South Africa would like to congratulate, Mr Yukiya Amano on his re-appointment as Director General of the IAEA and pledge our full support to ensure the successful implementation of the Agency’s work.
South Africa remains firm in its commitment towards nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We support the IAEA as the only internationally recognized competent authority responsible for verifying and assuring compliance with safeguards agreements of States Parties, concluded in compliance with their obligations under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
South Africa continues to work closely with the IAEA in the verification of nuclear materials and related activities, through compliance with South Africa’s obligations under the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and the Additional Protocol. We are pleased to report that South Africa maintained the broader conclusion drawn by the IAEA for the 2012 evaluation period.
South Africa supports the Agency’s efforts to strengthen the safeguards system in all states with safeguards agreements in force and within its legal mandate. In this regard we welcome the discussions in the September Board on the implementation of safeguards at the State Level. We look forward to engaging with the Secretariat and other Member States on the Director General’s comprehensive report on this issue, expected at the next General Conference.
While the Additional Protocol is a voluntary measure, it is nonetheless a crucial instrument to enable the IAEA to provide credible assurances regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. South Africa further encourages Member States who have not yet done so, to conclude and enter into force the model Additional Protocol.
My delegation supports the Agency’s continued efforts in strengthening activities, programmes and action plans related to nuclear, radiation, transport safety and waste management.
We also welcome the Agency’s efforts to strengthen the global nuclear safety framework and we are conducting consultations with a view to joining an international nuclear liability convention.
South Africa has completed and submitted the 6th National Report for the 2014 Review meeting of the Convention on Nuclear Safety, which provides an update on our activities in compliance with the Articles of the Convention.
Furthermore, South Africa completed a National Report on the implications of the Fukushima accident on Koeberg and Safari-1, presented at the August 2012 Extraordinary Meeting of the Convention.
The operational safety of the nuclear power plants remained high on the global agenda over the past two years and in this regard, my Government is pleased to support the Agency’s efforts in strengthening nuclear safety. South Africa actively participated in the IAEA Safety Standards Committees as well as several international Regulatory Forums. To further complement the nuclear safety initiatives, South Africa in cooperation with the IAEA, hosted the Technical Meeting on Safety Culture during Pre-Operational Phases: Practical Working Methods to Increase Safety in November 2012. A total of 140 participants from 25 Member States exchanged knowledge and experiences related to safety culture, leadership, management of safety and Integrated Management Systems.
At a regional level South Africa continues to play an active role in the Forum of Nuclear Regulatory Bodies in Africa (FNRBA). In August 2013, South Africa was also honoured to host an IAEA regional workshop on Siting and Site Evaluation for Nuclear Installations. The workshop was attended by countries planning to embark on nuclear power such as Egypt, Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya. We wish to express our appreciation to the Agency for its support in making this event a success.
At a national level, safety reassessments performed at our nuclear facilities identified the need for certain improvements to the plants and the regulatory framework, to further enhance safety. We are undertaking a self-assessment process to address matters related to Emergency Preparedness as outlined in the IAEA Emergency Preparedness Review (EPREV) guidelines. The plan is to have a full IAEA EPREV Mission conducted in 2014.
The importance of energy security to promote sustainable development and poverty alleviation cannot be overemphasised. The Government of South Africa is implementing the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2010-2030. The plan provides for the contribution of nuclear energy of 9,600MW to the energy mix by 2030, taking total nuclear energy production to 11,400 MW. This is anticipated to contribute 23% to the new generation capacity. A cabinet level committee, headed by President Jacob Zuma, to oversee and monitor the implementation of the Nuclear Programme was established and will be responsible for key decisions on the new build programme.
In assessing our readiness for the new nuclear build programme South Africa conducted the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission with the IAEA in February 2013. South Africa is the first country with an operating nuclear reactor to conduct the INIR Mission. This decision was based on the fact that since our last construction, 30 years ago, there have been considerable advances in the construction of nuclear power plants.
In the field of nuclear applications, the positive impacts resulting from the technical cooperation projects to promote socio-economic development in the areas of health, agriculture and nutrition is of great importance to South Africa and the entire African Continent. In this regard we emphasise the importance of the Agency’s Technical Cooperation Fund and the need for it to be Sufficient, Assured and Predictable (SAP).
South Africa continues to make good progress through a number of projects, such as the programme on the assessment of the Sterile Insect Technique for malaria mosquitoes within a South African context. This programme, managed by the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA) is of great importance in investigating possible alternative methods to the widespread use of insecticide to control malaria.
At a regional level, South Africa initiated the project for the Improvement of Veterinary Laboratory Capacities in sub-Saharan African Countries through the African Renaissance Fund (ARF) in collaboration with the IAEA and with contributions from Japan and the USA. The three main laboratories identified under this project in Ethiopia, Botswana and Cote d’Ivoire, are already able to perform nuclear and nuclear-related serological and molecular diagnostics with the training and equipment they received under this project.
South Africa, in this regard, attaches importance to the modernization of the Seibersdorf Nuclear Application Laboratory to support the valuable work of the Agency in the research and application of nuclear technology for development. These laboratories play a vital role in the development of technologies which, in their application, profoundly influence economic growth in countries plagued by pests such as Malaria and the tsetse fly. Additionally they play a leading role in the establishment of global laboratory networks. We encourage delegations to attend the side event for the renovation of the Laboratories of the Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications at Seibersdorf to be held on Thursday 19 September 2013
In addition, South Africa’s iThemba LABS for Accelerator Based Sciences provides the state-of-the-art facilities and programmes for high quality research, training and services in nuclear sciences and applications for the benefit of the people of South Africa and the African continent. The Accelerator Mass Spectroscopy Facility, through which South African universities derive benefit from, significantly contribute in the areas such as Biomedicine, Diagnostics, Agriculture and Minerals, Materials and Chemicals.
With the track record of over 30 years, South Africa continues to contribute to the production of Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) through the Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) based production facilities and processes. Necsa is the second largest producer of Mo-99 and recently announced its participation in a joint venture with Australia to deliver life-saving nuclear medicines to heart and cancer patients across the world. By using radioisotopes produced in South Africa’s Safari-1 Reactor at Necsa and Australia’s OPAL reactor, they would produce Mo-99 on a commercial scale, utilising an all-low enriched uranium process.
South Africa, however, remains convinced that the minimization of HEU should be addressed within the context of the long outstanding negotiations on a fissile material treaty. South Africa has advocated that these negotiations should commence within the Conference on Disarmament without further delay.
Whilst nuclear security remains the responsibility of each Member State, South Africa welcomes the progress made to strengthen nuclear security at the international level through the important work of the IAEA. Consultations are under way in South Africa on the ratification of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) amendment.
South Africa has worked with the IAEA to strengthen nuclear security within our borders. An example of this is the South African Nuclear Forensics Program at Necsa. The construction of the national nuclear forensic laboratory which started last year is progressing well and expected to be completed by the end of 2013. We are pleased to report that the necessary resource requirements for operating nuclear forensics have been met.
South Africa deposited its acceptance of Article 6 of the Statute in view of the importance that we attach to improving the representation on the Board of Governors notably that of Africa. We encourage Member States to follow suit.
The representation of women in the nuclear related areas (nuclear policy, regulations, science, technology, and management) across the globe is limited and continues to be a challenge. Bearing that in mind, South Africa fully supports and welcomes the significant role played by Women in Nuclear (WIN), in addressing the challenges faced by women in this sector. South Africa endorses any measures that will ensure gender balances within this sector.
I am also pleased to announce that the Annual Women in Nuclear - Global Conference will be hosted by South Africa in Johannesburg from the 5thto the 10th of October 2013. I would also like to commend the Agency in supporting four women from African States to participate in this conference. Member States are invited and encouraged to send participants to the conference.
South Africa will also host the 14th International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA) International Congress which will take place in Cape Town, from the 9th to the 13th of May 2016 with the theme: “Practising Radiation Protection - Sharing the experience and new challenges”. The Congress will mark unique milestones, such as the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the IRPA Congress and the 1st IRPA International Congress to take place on the African Continent.
Mr President, let me take this opportunity to thank the IAEA for its sterling work and support to Member States as well as hosting this conference.
I thank you.