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Topnews, Statements

14. September 2021

STATEMENT DELIVERED BY AMBASSADOR RAPULANE MOLEKANE, RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE/GOVERNOR OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA, AT THE IAEA BOARD OF GOVERNORS, 14 SEPTEMBER 2021, VIENNA, AUSTRIA

AGENDA ITEM 4:   STRENGTHENING THE AGENCY’S ACTIVITIES RELATED TO NUCLEAR SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND APPLICATIONS

Madam Chair

1. 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.

2. South Africa welcomes the Report by the Director General. My Delegation is of the firm belief that the Agency’s activities, as reflected in the Director General’s report, do not only highlight the IAEA’s commitment to its motto “Atoms for Peace and Development”, but also reflects the work undertaken by the Agency to assist Members to achieve their social and economic developmental objectives.  The Report also affirms the direct contribution the peaceful use of nuclear power and non-nuclear power applications make towards the promotion and achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Moreover, these applications also support African Member States’ efforts to realise the developmental aspirations contained in the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

3. The on-going support provided by the Agency to African Member States under the AU-PATTEC initiative, as detailed in Annex 2 of the Report is appreciated as it continues to make progress in the eradication of tsetse-transmitted trypanosomosis on our Continent. We can completely eradicate this disease and therefore South Africa appeals to Member States in a position to do so, to provide technical, financial and material support to this important initiative.

4. South Africa is a recipient of the IAEA’s Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) Package for the Management of Disease Transmitting Mosquitoes. Wherever it has been implemented SIT has been successful in yielding long-term efficient and cost-effective results. South Africa will utilise SIT to achieve a major goal for our country and the Continent, namely the total eradication of malaria. My delegation is therefore proud to inform the Board that with the valuable assistance provided by the Agency our national project titled Assessing the Sterile Insect Technique for Malaria Mosquitos in a South African Setting, is in its third phase of implementation and we thank the IAEA for its continued support through the TC programme - as detailed in the Director General’s report.  

5. With regard to Food and Agriculture, as contained in Annex 5, South Africa, alongside various developing Member States, has been able to secure ISO 17025:2017 accreditation for our food safety laboratories thus increasing the reliability of testing and monitoring of chemical residues and related contaminants in foods. This is another area in which the use of nuclear applications directly contributes to the attainment of our national priorities, namely enhancing food safety and security, which in turn directly addresses one of our major challenges, the eradication of poverty  

6. Madam Chair, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that animal transmitted diseases know no borders, and can devastate the human and animal health globally. The early detection of emerging and re-emerging zoonotic diseases contributes significantly to the attainment of human health, food safety, food security and improvement in the quality of food production. It is in this context that South Africa, once again, is pleased that the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory Network (VETLAB) project has shown considerable growth during the reporting period, further reaffirming the value of nuclear and nuclear-derived techniques in tackling socio-economic and public health challenges.

7. In this regard, the Agency’s quick response to Member States’ request for COVID-19 related assistance, through the VETLAB delivery mechanism is another shining example of how working collaboration among Member States and with the IAEA, can harness the peaceful uses of the atom in protecting and advancing humankind. The Joint FAO/IAEA Centre remains integral to these activities and my delegation welcomes the strengthening of this partnership with the signing of a Revised Arrangement for the FAO–IAEA partnership earlier this year.

8. We also reiterate our support for ZODIAC and encourage Member States that have not done so, to nominate ZODIAC National Coordinators and Laboratories. We thank the IAEA for the briefing on 9 September and we reiterate the importance of the full implementation of the General Conference resolution.  We therefore look forward to continued engagement and reporting on the further development for the project. We also look forward to receiving a Progress Report.

9. The promotion of nuclear energy for peaceful uses in all aspects of life, is important to South Africa. In this regard, South Africa remains committed to strengthening its participation and programmes with the Agency and are proud that iThemba Labs – Africa’s leading research facility for accelerator-based science and host of the largest accelerator facility in the southern hemisphere will soon be an IAEA Collaborating Centre. We thank DDG Mokhtar for her unwavering support and assistance in this regard.

10. On Nuclear Knowledge Management, Madam Chair, my delegation reaffirms its commitment to Capacity building and Human Resources Development. While having the most advanced nuclear programme on our Continent, South Africa fully supports and encourages the establishment of effective human resource and knowledge management networks in developing countries; and we are proud to inform the Board that South Africa is ready to host the 2022 Nuclear Energy Management School for the African Region under RAF0059 titled “Supporting the Establishment of the Nuclear Education Science and Technology Network”.

11. Moreover, it would be remiss of my delegation to speak on and highlight the value in the Agency’s activities related to nuclear science, technology and applications without emphasising that women and youth need to be centralised in these activities and programmes. In this regard, we thank the Director General for initiating the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship, which young South Africa women have been recipients of.

12. On Nuclear Power applications and in particular, nuclear energy, South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan 2019 includes nuclear power as part of our 20 year electricity generation plan. Our 2 500 megawatts Nuclear New Build Programme is further informed by South Africa’s Nuclear Energy Policy of 2008 which encompasses nuclear energy in our strategies to mitigate climate change. In this regard, we are pleased with concurrence of the National Electricity Regulator with the Ministerial Determination which paves the way for preparations for the procurement of the Nuclear New Build Programme which is intended to be concluded in 2024. Our procurement process will be guided by international best practice and the IAEA’s milestone approach.  In addition, South Africa remains committed to the continued safe operation of Africa’s only commercial power plant, Koeberg. In this regard, a Safety Aspects of Long – Term Operation (SALTO) Mission is scheduled for January 2022 and we look forward to welcoming the IAEA delegation for that Mission.

With these remarks, Madam Chair, my delegation takes notes of document GOV/2021/27-GC(65)/3 and all its annexures.

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