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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 3: STRENGTHENING THE AGENCY’S ACTIVITIES RELATED TO NUCLEAR SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND APPLICATIONS: NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY REVIEW 2022

Mr Chair,

1. My delegation associates itself with the statements delivered by the African Group as well as the G77 and China. Similarly, we associate ourselves with the earlier joint-statement delivered on behalf of the Co-Chairs of the Friends of ReNuAL. South Africa would like to make the following additional remarks, in its national capacity.

Mr Chair,

2. South Africa thanks the Director General for presenting the Nuclear Technology Review 2022 which highlights the positive role that peaceful uses of nuclear energy continues to play in various fields including nuclear power, human health, food and agriculture, the environment and radioisotopes and radiation technology.

3. South Africa recognises nuclear power as a stable and resilient low-carbon source of energy, as such, nuclear power is an integral part of South Africa’s energy mix. Pursuant to our Nuclear New Build Programme, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, issued its concurrence with the ministerial determination on the procurement of 2500 megawatts new generation capacity in September 2021. We are now developing the Procurement Framework and designing a competitive bidding process which will contain a well-defined road map that will guide our procurement process. The IAEA’s expertise as well as its documented supportive processes including the Generic User Requirements and Criteria (GURC) will serve as valuable resources in guiding our activities.

4. South Africa has made good progress towards extending the original forty years life span of the two units in the Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant by another 20 years. In this regard, the Regulator has accepted the Long-Term Operation (LTO) license application and the LTO safety case will be delivered in July 2022. Similarly, the Steam Generator Replacement project is progressing well. South Africa looks forward to the next SALTO peer review session following the postponement of the session originally planned for January 2022.

5. Furthermore, our research Reactor SAFARI – 1, which is one of the four largest producers of medical isotopes and ranks high amongst the best operated research reactors in the world, will reach the end of its operational life shortly. My government has since decided to replace SAFARI – 1 with a new Multipurpose Reactor. To this end a multidisciplinary team has been established to coordinate this project. We looks forward to cooperating with Agency in this endeavor. 

Mr Chair,

6. South Africa fully supports Rays of Hope - the new initiative launched on the margins of the AU Summit on World Cancer Day. The establishment and expansion of radiotherapy and diagnostic facilities is integral in combatting the cancer scourge that plagues our continent and South African experts, institutions and facilities remain at the Agency’s disposal to provide capacity building, training, and support.

7. Nuclear Medicine continues to be at the forefront of combating cancer; and with Steve Biko Academic Hospital, as the leading African (Nuclear Medicine) hospital with world-renowned expertise in Theranostics and the hospital being global leader in the treatment of prostate cancer - South Africa welcomes the Agency’s support to Member States in establishing facilities and providing training on Theranostics. With the Agency’s assistance, South Africa has successfully implemented radio-theranostics in several cancers, and we further applaud the Agency for its continued work in developing new techniques in this regard.

8. On Food and Agriculture, South Africa takes this opportunity to thank the Agency and AFRA with entrusting us with hosting the Second Africa Food Safety Workshop and the Regional Meeting on Food Safety. We look forward to fruitful discussions and concrete outcomes.  

9. South Africa welcomes the Artificial Intelligence for Nuclear Sciences and Applications section in the NTR and my delegation perceives A.I. as an opportunity and stimulus for the further development of Nuclear Sciences and Applications. We are proud to inform that a South African is currently conducting their PhD on applying machine learning schemes for optimising the fuel loading for nuclear reactors, which will further help to improve their safety and utilisation.

Mr Chair,

10. My Delegation attaches great significance to the important role women and youth play in the nuclear field globally. South Africa remains fully supportive of the activities taken to achieve gender mainstreaming and in the week of International Women’s Day (8 March), we urge the Secretariat to continue to apply youth and gender best practices when conducting and hosting workshops and training courses.

11. In conclusion, my delegation wishes to remind Member States that one of the core reasons for the existence of the IAEA is to assist Member States to reap the benefits of nuclear technology. All humanity should be able to utilise the technology for socio-economic development in support of the UN Sustainable Development goals  

With these remarks, South Africa takes note of the report. Thank you.

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