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Topnews, Statements

11. April 2024

STATEMENT DELIVERED BY AMBASSADOR RAPULANE MOLEKANE GOVERNOR/RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA AT THE EXTRAORDINARY SESSION OF THE IAEA BOARD OF GOVERNORS, 11 APRIL 2024, VIENNA, AUSTRIA

Chair,

At the outset, South Africa condemns any attacks on any peaceful nuclear installation and considers the reports of drone attacks at or near Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) site as a serious and avoidable grave escalation. While we note with some relief that initial assessments seem to suggest that critical nuclear safety and security systems at the site have not been compromised, these attacks do add to the already highly precarious situation at Europe’s largest peaceful nuclear power plant.

South Africa continues to support with appreciation the tireless efforts of Director General Grossi and the staff of the IAEA Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhya to secure and maintain nuclear safety, security and safeguards at Ukraine’s Nuclear Power Plants in already extremely challenging circumstances.  In our collective response to these recent developments, the personal safety and wellbeing of the Agency’s experts and staff at the ZNPP should remain a priority.

South Africa agrees that the presence of the Agency’s agents provides us with vital, first-hand information on the developments at the ZNPP as envisaged in the Five Principles of the Director General.

However, in our efforts to unpack recent events at the ZNPP, it is worth reminding ourselves that the mandate of the Agency and consequently also of the IZAMS team is technical and limited to a supporting role. It is not realistic to expect nuclear inspectors in the fog of war to become military inspectors. Any expectation of attribution by them would in our view pose a serious threat to the professional and objective work so carefully undertaken since the start of the conflict.

Finally, we welcome the fact that the Director General intends to brief the United Nations Security Council on these developments in the very near future. The Agency’s response to the nuclear-related challenges during the conflict has been excellent but it also remains South Africa’s firm position that this conflict, like others, needs to find resolution in a negotiated settlement based on the principles of the UN Charter and with the relevant international fora, in this case the UNSC, playing their role.

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