05. December 2016
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR TEBOGO SEOKOLO, RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE/GOVERNOR OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA AT THE INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON NUCLEAR SECURITY: COMMITMENTS AND ACTIONS, VIENNA, 05 DECEMBER 2016
Ladies and gentlemen
Allow me to express my appreciation to the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency for hosting this Conference, which provides an inclusive platform to exchange the experiences and achievements of countries to date in strengthening nuclear security.
I also extend my congratulations to you, Mr. Bung-se Yun, Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea, on your appointment as the President of this International Conference on Nuclear Security.
My delegation commends Ambassador Abel Ayoko of Nigeria and Ambassador Young-wan Song of South Korea, for diligently and patiently facilitating the informal discussions on the Ministerial Declaration.
Building on the outcome of the 2013 Nuclear Security Conference, I am sure that we will use this occasion to learn from one another; exchange knowledge on innovative ways that could inform future approaches to nuclear security; as well as forge partnerships to strengthen international technical cooperation in the area of nuclear security.
As correctly reflected in the Ministerial Declaration, my delegation believes that nuclear security should be located within the broad framework of nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation objectives and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
Terrorist attacks also necessitate that States collaborate and work together at an international level to address terrorism in all its manifestations. Priority therefore needs to be given to nuclear security with a view to enhancing the expertise to deter, detect and combat malicious acts on nuclear facilities by terrorists and to deny them access to nuclear material and other radiological substances.
While we understand that nuclear security is the responsibility of States, we firmly believe that the IAEA has an essential role in facilitating and coordinating international cooperation, information exchange on nuclear security and supporting the efforts of States to fulfil their nuclear security responsibilities. In this regard, I wish to acknowledge the progress that has been made to strengthen nuclear security through the important work that the Agency does. It is our belief that through the concerted collaborative efforts of State and enhanced cooperation in multilateral organisations, we can effectively deal with nuclear security in an open, transparent and inclusive manner.
In accordance with its national and international obligations, South Africa remains committed to ensuring and maintaining effective nuclear security measures in respect of all nuclear and radioactive material, including nuclear facilities, in the country. As South Africa is planning to expand its nuclear programme, nuclear security remains a priority for us. In this context, we also recognize the benefit derived from nuclear energy in areas such as health, nutrition and agriculture. It is for these reasons, amongst others, that my country continues to advocate that measures to strengthen nuclear security should not hamper the right of States to develop and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
Similarly, while we welcome the need to continue to provide, on voluntary basis, the necessary financial resources for the Agency to assist Member States, upon request, to strengthen their nuclear security regimes, any further measures contemplated in this regard should not be to the detriment of the Technical Cooperation Programme of the IAEA.
South Africa contributes to nuclear applications through the manufacturing and supply of medical isotopes on a large scale using low enriched uranium (LEU). With regard to the use of HEU, we wish to reiterate our view that discussions should not only focus on HEU used for peaceful purposes, which is only a tiny fraction of the existing stocks of HEU, as minimisation efforts should cover both civilian and military stocks if it is to be of lasting benefit. We therefore continue to advocate that the negotiations on a fissile material treaty should commence within the Conference on Disarmament without further delay.
As States step up their efforts to strengthen nuclear security, we should not forget that in order for the global nuclear security system to be truly effective, it needs to be comprehensive. Even if all civilian materials were fully secured to the highest standards, this would only cover an estimated 15% of the weapons-usable material around the world which is already under IAEA safeguards. In order to address the issue of nuclear security in a comprehensive manner, it is therefore necessary to also address the issue of the remaining estimated 85%, which is categorized as military materials that are not subject to any international security standards of oversight mechanisms and constitute the majority of the sensitive material.
We remain concerned about networks dealing in the illicit transfer of nuclear technology that could be used to manufacture weapons of mass destruction. South Africa had in the past successfully prosecuted offenders in this regard and has learned that such eventualities demand enhanced international cooperation, strong national legislation and effective enforcement machineries in Member States.
We wish to commend the Agency’s efforts to facilitate adherence to international instruments relating to nuclear security and welcome the entry-into-force of the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials.
In conclusion, Mr. President,
South Africa believes that enhanced nuclear security arrangements for nuclear material and facilities in civilian use and nuclear non-proliferation efforts alone will not eliminate the threat of nuclear terrorism. In this regard, it is important to note that as long as high-risk nuclear materials remain outside international oversight, the threat of nuclear terrorism will remain.
I wish to assure you that South Africa will continue to work tirelessly with the international community and the IAEA to enhance nuclear security globally.
I thank you.