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09. March 2022

STATEMENT DELIVERED BY AMBASSADOR RAPULANE MOLEKANE, GOVERNOR/RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, AT THE IAEA BOARD OF GOVERNORS, 9 MARCH 2022, VIENNA AUSTRIA

AGENDA ITEM 6: THE SAFETY, SECURITY AND SAFEGUARDS IMPLICATIONS OF THE SITUATION IN UKRAINE

Mr Chairperson

From the outset South Africa wishes to thank the Director General and the Secretariat for the regular updates on the evolving and increasingly desperate situation in Ukraine.

South Africa reiterates its rejection of the illegal use of force and our commitment to uphold the principles and purposes of the UN Charter. We urge the parties to the conflict to uphold the Statue and all other international legal obligations, including the Safety Conventions, and the Convention on the Early Notification of a Nuclear Accidents, as well as the Geneva Convention and Additional Protocol.

My delegation fully supports the efforts by the Director General to engage the parties to the conflict with the aim of assuring that the seven pillars for the safe and secure operation of the nuclear facilities, radiological sources, and nuclear and radiological material in all forms in Ukraine are safe and secured.

We have watched with a growing sense of horror as events evolve around Ukraine’s vast nuclear programme. Any incident at any of these sites will have far reaching devastating consequences that will seriously affect human health and impact the environment far beyond Ukraine’s borders for decades to come.

We reiterate the long-standing principled position that the responsibility for the safety and security of a country’s nuclear facilities and material rests solely with that state and implore that the complete command and control of all the nuclear facilities, material and surrounding areas should be in the hands of the rightful Ukrainian civilian authority, the SNRIU. My delegation is also concerned about the health and safety of the personnel at these facilities and shares the Director General’s concern about the conditions under which they have to work, including a lack of medical treatment, sleep and equipment for maintenance among others.

As we said in a previous statement, for South Africa, given our own history of bitter conflict, there is always hope and it is never too late to talk. We welcome the continued dialogue between the delegations of Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Although tentative, we believe that this is the way forward and we urge the negotiators to engage in good faith, and with the aim of reaching a ceasefire as a first step.

We urge the parties to continue negotiations as the only way to achieve a sustainable solution and we encourage all other parties involved, however remotely, to work towards a negotiated settlement. In this regard South Africa fully supports the efforts of the UN Secretary General as he tries to find a way forward to resolve this horrible conflict. We commend the efforts of H.E. Macky Sall the president of Senegal in his capacity as chair of the African Union in calling for dialogue in his contact with the Russian Federation President.

In conclusion, we again lament the treatment of Africans trying to flee the conflict area and reject the racist and xenophobic treatment at the borders of Ukraine. Black Lives Matter - we all have the same right to safe passage out of conflict zones no matter what we look like.

I thank you

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