Topnews, Statements

15. September 2020


Agenda Item 7:   Strengthening the Agency’s Activities Related to Nuclear Science, Technology and Applications

Madam Chair,

My delegation associates itself with the statements delivered on behalf of the G77 and China, the African Group and the co-Chairs of the Friends of ReNuAL respectively, and I would like to make the following remarks in my national capacity.

Madam Chair,

South Africa fully believes we should continue to strive for the utilisation of the Atom for peace and development and supports the Agency’s work in this endeavour. It is my delegation’s belief that the use of nuclear for peaceful uses, encompassing both nuclear power and non-power applications, is key to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the African Union’s Agenda 2063. My Delegation believes that the Agency’s activities as reflected in the Director General’s report reflects the work undertaken by the Agency to assist Member States through the use of nuclear science, technology and applications.

Madam Chair,

With reference to Annex 3 - South Africa welcomes the on-going support provided by the Agency to African Member States under the AU-PATTEC initiative. The support provided throughout the project has led to great progress being made in the eradication of tsetse-transmitted trypanosomosis disease in African countries. The number of reported cases of this disease continues to decrease and in order to continue tackling sleeping sickness, my delegation appeals to Member States in a position to do so, to provide technical, financial and material support to this project that still affects sub-Saharan Africa.

Madam Chair,

My delegation is pleased to note that the Sterile Insect Technique (SiT), contained in annex 4 of the Director General’s report, continues to yield results wherever it is implemented. It is a nuclear application that South Africa relies on in our fight against disease-transmitting mosquitoes.  With the invaluable support of the Agency, South Africa has been able to complete Africa’s first Vector Mosquito Mass Rearing Facility, thus further contributing to our goal of eliminating malaria within our borders by 2025. South Africa fully supports the Agency’s efforts to seek further resources for the development of the SiT package against malaria transmitting mosquitoes, particularly as it relates to the research and development component of the full SiT package, including its testing and validation, and transfer to Member States.

Madam Chair,

The current COVID-19 pandemic is a harsh reminder that zoonotic diseases know no borders and that they have the ability to devastate the human, animal and social well-being of a nation or region. South Africa remains grateful for the timeous support received from the Agency in providing us with test kits and relevant equipment to help fight the virus.  This pandemic has highlighted the importance of early detection, characterisation and diagnosis of emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases. It is in this context that South Africa is pleased that the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory Network (VETLAB) project has shown considerable growth over the last 7 years, as it was used as one of, if not the main delivery mechanism to provide support to over 120 Member States.

We request that the Agency continue in its efforts to expand the VETLAB Network beyond Africa and Asia to Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean. The capabilities developed and strengthened by the VETLAB Network saw veterinary laboratories providing critical support to medical laboratories during the pandemic.  In this regard, the VETLAB Network is a prime example of how working together as Member States, in close collaboration with the Agency, we can harness the peaceful uses of the atom in the interest of human progress in an efficient and effective manner. We therefore encourage Member States in a position to do so, to contribute to the expansion of the Network as agreed to in the 2018 General Conference – Nuclear Applications resolution.

Madam Chair,

South Africa is also pleased to note the activities undertaken in support of Nuclear Knowledge Management. As the host of Africa’s first and only nuclear power station, Koeberg, as well as the SAFARI-1 research reactor which is one of the oldest in the world - South Africa has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the use of nuclear for peaceful purposes. It is in this regard that human resource development remains a priority for South Africa. This is because the successful implementation of nuclear technology related programmes requires the training of skilled personnel such as engineers and technicians through on-the-job and academic programmes, which in turn further contributes to the attainment of our development goals, using nuclear science, technology and applications.

In this regard, we welcome the inclusion of the second South Africa–IAEA Nuclear Energy Management School at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2018 in the Director General’s report.

South Africa will continue to participate in and contribute to activities undertaken by the Agency to strengthen nuclear knowledge management and we encourage the inclusion of a gender diversity and equality perspective to these activities. Women and the youth should be a focal point in our training efforts.

Madam Chair,

In light of the aforementioned – South Africa is proud to announce that two of its tertiary institutions, North-West University and the University of the Witwatersrand were awarded the International Nuclear Management Academy membership this year. South Africa looks forward to the collaboration on educational programmes that this membership will provide.

In conclusion, South Africa would like to reiterate the importance of continued collaboration and solidarity among us as member States. This will serve to strengthen the Agency’s activities related to nuclear science, technology and applications and we encourage Member States to pledge their contributions to the Technical Cooperation Fund at the upcoming General Conference. A sufficiently, assured and predictably funded TCF allows developing Member States to access nuclear science, technology and applications because the TC programme is the delivery mechanism that assists us in the attainment of our national development priorities, as well as the SDGs.

With these remarks, Madam Chair, my delegation takes notes of the report.

I thank you.

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