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Topnews, Statements

07. March 2022

STATEMENT DELIVERED BY AMBASSADOR RAPULANE MOLEKANE, GOVERNOR/RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, AT THE IAEA BOARD OF GOVERNORS, 7 MARCH 2022, VIENNA, AUSTRIA

AGENDA ITEM 2: NUCLEAR AND RADIATION SAFETY: NUCLEAR SAFETY REVIEW 2022

Mr Chairman

South Africa aligns itself with the statements delivered by the distinguished representative of the Kingdom of Morocco on behalf of the Group of 77 and China as well as the statement read on behalf of the African Group.

We thank the Director General and his team for the report. My delegation fully supports the priorities and activities identified in the report for 2022 in the area of nuclear safety. Our National Nuclear Regulator and its Centre for Nuclear Safety and Security (CNSS) is available to support the IAEA in its planned activities in the implementaiton of these objectives and will surely provide inputs before the deadline of the 11 April for consideration.

South Africa reaffirms the principle that the nuclear safety, rests entirely in the hands and responsibility of that state. We are also grateful for the IAEA’s continued support to Member States in this important area.

South Africa is strongly committed to the fulfilment of our international legal obligations, including under the Convention of Nuclear Safety and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. In addition, we call on all Member States to reiterate their commitment to protection of humankind against nuclear accidents and incidents through the full implementation of these instruments as well as the Geneva Conventions and Protocols.

Furthermore, as a major producer and exporter of radioactive sources, South Africa endorsed the multilateral Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources and its associated Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources.

Our commitment to these instruments is evidenced by our track record of operating one of the world’s oldest and best run nuclear power plants and research reactors.

Mr Chairman

We have noted with satisfaction the growing interest among Member States to improve their ability to respond quickly and effectively to nuclear and radiological emergencies and the support the Agency is providing to Member States in this regard.

In South Africa our National Nuclear Regulator is continuously working to strengthen the country’s Emergency Planning and Preparedness, especially in light of the long term operation of the Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant and the planned decommissioning and replacement of the  SAFARI research reactors. The maintenance and protection of public health and the health and well being of the environment is of utmost importance to South Africa and we will continue to work with the IAEA to strengthen our nuclear safety regulations and provisions. This is also important in the management and disposal of nuclear and radiological waste.

Mr Chairman,

My delegation has also noted with interest that the IAEA’s training activities have continued to expand, despite the limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the use of webinars that has reached over 6000 participants in 2021.

As the report points out, human resource development, skills transfer, training and education is essential for sustaining the safe operation of nuclear facilities such as nuclear power plants and research reactors. In South Africa’s case, the nuclear industry’s human resources is ageing and facing retirement, that can lead to the loss of experience, which could adversely affect the safe operation of our various programmes. We therefore welcome these training programmes especially for our youth and women in particular.

In closing, South Africa looks forward to working with the IAEA in the year ahead as we slowly return to normal, including in engaging on the safe operation of new technologies such as Small Modular Reactors and the long term operation of nuclear power and research reactors. We are also committed to working with all Member States as we prepare the resolutions for this year’s General Conference, including the Nuclear and Radiation Safety resolution, which is an essential policy document guiding our activities moving forward.

With these remarks, South Africa takes not of document GOV/2022/3

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