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Topnews, Statements

12. June 2017

STATEMENT BY DR JOHNNY THABO PITSWANE, DEPUTY PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, BOARD OF GOVERNORS, 12 JUNE 2017, VIENNA

AGENDA ITEM 2: ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2016

Chairperson,

South Africa associates itself with the statement delivered by the Ambassador of Algeria, H.E. Ms Faouzia MEBARKI on behalf of the African Group, and with the statement delivered by the Ambassador of Iran, H. E. Mr Reza NAJAFI on behalf of the Group of G-77 and China.  My delegation would like to make some remarks in our national capacity.

Chairperson,

My delegation commends the Secretariat for compiling this comprehensive Annual Report for 2016 and the technical briefing which outlined the key activities and achievements of the Organization over the last year, including the implementation of key resolutions of the General Conference.

Chairperson,

We further wish to highlight the following issues which are important for my delegation.  South Africa believes that the demand for nuclear power and the peaceful applications of nuclear technology will continue to increase globally to meet with Climate Change targets, food security and energy security imperatives, amongst others. This is evident in the Agency’s 2016 projections for 2030, which showed an increase in global nuclear power capacity of 1.9% in the low case scenario and 56% in the high case scenario.   

The peaceful applications of nuclear technology and nuclear power can also contribute meaningfully to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is in this context that South Africa continues to promote and protect the inalienable right to the peaceful uses of nuclear technology and nuclear power as both are of particular relevance and importance in attaining sustainable and accelerated economic growth in Africa and the rest of the world.

South Africa is pleased with the entering into force of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change on 4 November 2016, and fully supports its objectives of limiting the global temperatures to below 2°C and below. In this regard, my country firmly believes that the Agency has a significant role to play in the promotion of nuclear technology to assist in reducing global warming.

Chairperson,

In fulfilling the requirements of South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan which calls for an energy mix involving nuclear power and renewable energy technologies, my country undertook an IAEA Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission in December 2016 in order to strengthen and harmonize the nuclear and radiological regulatory framework, as well as to reinforce their independence.   

In this regard, my country is furthermore pleased to note that according to the Annual Report, data collected in 2016 on the IRRS follow-up missions showed that Member States with operating nuclear power plants had implemented most of the recommendations and suggestions from the initial IRRS mission, with more than 70% of recommendations and 80% of suggestions implemented.

In the sphere of nuclear technology applications, in June 2016, South Africa installed a neutron diffraction facility in the country’s Safari-1 research reactor located at the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA). The installation of the upgraded diffraction beam line facilities will enable our scientists and those from the Southern Africa region to conduct materials research using thermal energy neutron beams technology. The recent upgrade was carried out with support from the IAEA, which included donations of some of the high-precision equipment and contracting of international experts to advise on its design, fabrication and installation. The IAEA, through its Technical Cooperation Programme, also facilitated the training of NECSA staff at leading international research centres.

Similarly in October 2016, South Africa hosted the first Joint South Africa-IAEA Nuclear Energy Management School in Cape Town. The Nuclear Energy Management (NEM) School will help promote and foster knowledge on a wide range of issues related to the peaceful use of nuclear technology.

Whilst it will provide future leaders of nuclear energy programmes a unique international educational experience, including a worldwide networking opportunity, it will also assist my country in developing and retaining a pool of skilled and crucial nuclear experts covering a range of specialized areas. South Africa supports the continuation of this joint initiative and stands ready to continue partnering with the IAEA on this and other future valuable projects.

Chairperson,

The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VETLAB) project continues to fulfil an important role in the Agency’s work in strengthening regional and national veterinary laboratories for the early and rapid detection including the diagnosis of zoonotic diseases in wildlife and livestock.  It would be recalled that South Africa made a seed financial contribution to the further development of the national veterinary laboratories network in the Southern Africa region and beyond. In this regard, we are pleased to welcome Botswana’s National Veterinary Laboratory and its recognition in 2016 as a reference laboratory for contagious bovine pleuropneumonia by the World Organisation for Animal Health. 

My country is similarly pleased to acknowledge the National Veterinary Laboratory in Cameroon which has become a leading national and sub-regional actor in the fight against emerging zoonotic diseases such as Ebola and the highly pathogenic avian flu. 

You would recall that funding for the VETLAB project came to an end in 2016, and my delegation encourages Member States to make financial contributions to ensure the sustainability of this important project.  In this regard, we herein recognise the contributions made by Japan and the United States of America towards funding the VETLAB project.

Chairperson,

The Renovation of the Seibersdorf Nuclear Applications Laboratories (ReNuAL) remains important to South Africa and all Member States. As co-chair of the ReNuAL Project with Germany, South Africa appreciates the significant milestone reached in 2016 with the realisation of 31 million Euros required for implementing the first phase of the ReNuAL project, and thanks all the Member States that made financial and in-kind contributions towards the project. 

South Africa is equally pleased and appreciates that the current resource mobilisation efforts are now focused on the ReNuAL Plus project. In this regard, we acknowledge the financial contributions made by the United States and Turkey.  These contributions will go a long way in completing the Animal Health and Production Laboratory as well as other outstanding elements of the second phase of the project.  It is our sincerest hope that by the time the Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Applications is held in 2018, the second phase of this project would be completed.   As Friends of ReNuAL, we continue to call upon all Member States in a position to do so to make further contributions to the ReNuAL Plus project.

Chairperson,

With these remarks, my delegation takes note of the 2016 Annual Report as contained in GOV/2017/8, and recommends its promulgation to the General Conference.

I thank you

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