Topnews, Statements

12. Juni 2019

STATEMENT BY  DR. JOHNNY PITSWANE, ALTERNATE RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY BOARD OF GOVERNORS, 12 JUNE 2019, VIENNA, AUSTRIA

AGENDA ITEM 7: NUCLEAR VERIFICATION

(B) THE SAFEGUARDS IMPLEMENTATION REPORT

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Madame Chairperson

South Africa aligned itself with the statement delivered by the Permanent Representative of Venezuela on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and we wish to make the following remarks in our national capacity.

South Africa firmly believes that an effective safeguards system is an important building bloc in the nuclear non-proliferation regime and the international peace and security architecture.  It is therefore important for the Agency to continue its efforts in strengthening the effectiveness of the safeguards system as reported in the Safeguards Implementation Report for 2018 (SIR).

Integrated Safeguards as well as State-Level Safeguards have been in place in South Africa since 2015 and updated in 2018. We are therefore pleased with the fact that in its SIR,  the Agency was once again in the position to draw Broader Conclusions regarding South Africa’s nuclear activities by yet again confirming that our nuclear facilities and materials remain in peaceful use.  The Agency has been able to do so since 2010. 

This conclusion confirms South Africa’s strong commitment towards non-proliferation as well as our ability to fully utilise nuclear energy and technology to contribute to our socio-economic development.  Furthermore, it reiterates South Africa’s continued strong cooperation with the the IAEA, which we find invaluable.  South Africa also remains committed to strengthening the verification regime -  a commitment as reflected in our continued participation in the Member State Support Programmes (MSSPs) as well through our participation in the Voluntary Reporting Scheme on nuclear material, specified equipment and non-nuclear material.

Madam Chairperson,

The effective implementation of safeguards and the non-proliferation regime is a process that not only relies on effective and efficient execution by the Agency, but more critically also rests upon the full cooperation of Member States. Safeguards agreements – regardless of type – place specific obligations on Member States.  The Report highlights this obligation and states that the Agency’s ability to verify peaceful nuclear activities and the non-diversion of material depends on the accurate and timely reporting by Member States; including the accurate accounting of nuclear material and activities. It is therefore concerning that the Agency can only report “modest improvements in resolving SRA effectiveness issues” and that a quarter of States with safeguards agreements in place “still did not have an established SRA”.  Most troubling is that the number of States that have not provided timely nuclear material accountancy reports have increased in the reporting period.  In addition, the number of States that have not provided timely declarations under the Additional Protocol is still high – at nearly a third of States with Additional Protocols in force.

It is important to indicate that the nuclear non-proliferation regime depends on the accuracy and veracity of the information available to the Agency.  This builds trust and enhances confidence among Member States in the system.  We therefore appeal to all Member States with safeguards agreements in place – regardless of the type – to ensure that accurate, complete and timely information is provided to the Agency on all obligations including design information and Additional Protocol Declarations.

Moreover, the 2018 Report again indicates that there is an increase in the amount of nuclear material under safeguards, which increases the responsibility on the Agency to verify the nature of nuclear programmes across the world.  The Agency has to do so with limited resources and therefore closer collaboration with Member States is thus essential.

We also welcome the Agency for making its laboratories and facilities available for training of personnel in the State System of Accounting and Control of Nuclear Material and the Regional System of Accounting and Control of Nuclear Material.  South Africa also welcomes the 13 international, regional and national training courses for personnel responsible for overseeing and implementing State and Regional Systems of accounting and Control and welcome the fact that more than 250 experts from some 50 States were trained on safeguards related topics throughout the reporting period.

Madame Chairperson,

South Africa remains concerned about the nuclear material used for military purposes that remains outside of the verification regime. We maintain and reiterate our position that all nuclear material should be brought under Agency safeguards, in the interests of international peace and security.  In addition, the Agency is the primary authority responsible for verifying compliance with the safeguards agreements of NPT States Parties and therefore we remain concerned about States that remain outside this important Treaty.  In this regard, we strongly encourage the 11 States Parties that have not yet signed Comprehensive Safeguards Agreements to do so without delay so as to enable the Agency to draw the requisite safeguards conclusions.

With these remarks, South Africa took note of the SIR for 2018, as set out in document GOV/2019/22.

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