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International Atomic Energy (IAEA)

What is the IAEA?

The IAEA is the world’s centre of cooperation in the nuclear field. It was established as the world’s “Atoms for Peace” Organisation in 1957 within the UN community.

The policy-making organs of the IAEA are the Board of Governors and the General Conference. The Board of Governors has 35 members and South Africa holds the designated seat for the African region. The Board of Governors meets four times a year, with one additional meeting each of its subsidiary bodies the Programme and Budget Committee and the Technical Assistance and Cooperation Committee. The General Conference is a meeting of all Member States of the IAEA and meets in September/October every year to adopt policy resolutions and decisions as recommended by the Board of Governors. South Africa presided over the General Conference in 2006 and 2013.

South Africa and the IAEA:  

The IAEA's counterpart in South Africa is the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA), previously known as Atomic Energy Corporation (AEC).

After the democratic elections in South Africa in April 1994, the South African government, having joined the family of nations, assumed its role as the designated member of the IAEA Board of Governors for the African region.  Ambassador Xolisa Mabhongo, Resident Representative to the IAEA, is South Africa's Governor.

In this capacity, South Africa continues to discharge its responsibilities in various organs of the IAEA which includes the Technical Assistance and Cooperation Committee (TACC), the General Conference (GC), Programme and Budget Committee, etc.

The Nuclear Energy Act of 1999, Act 46 of 1999, gives responsibility to the Minister of Minerals and Energy for nuclear power generation, management of radioactive wastes and the country's international commitments. The implementing Department is the Department of Energy.

South Africa continues to benefit from the IAEA Technical Cooperation through participation in national, regional and interregional projects.

In 2002, South Africa signed the Additional Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), aimed at boosting international joint efforts to achieve global nuclear non-proliferation. The Additional Protocol is designed for states already having a safeguards agreement with the IAEA in place towards strengthening the effectiveness and improving the efficiency of the safeguards regime as a contribution to global nuclear non-proliferation objectives. The predominant focus of the Additional Protocol is to strengthen the IAEA's capability to detect undeclared nuclear material and activities in order to provide credible assurances of and confidence in the peaceful application of nuclear energy.

In 2002, South Africa deposited its Instrument of Accession to the Agreement on the Privileges and Immunities with the IAEA Director-General.

South Africa actively participates in the peer review process established through the following Conventions, for which the IAEA serves as depositary:

  • Convention on Nuclear Safety
  • Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management (Joint Convention)

South Africa also adheres to the:

  • Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material
  • Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident
  • Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency
  • Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources and Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources

Upon South Africa’s initiative and assisted through the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation programme, the Forum of Nuclear Regulatory Bodies in Africa (FNRBA) was launched in 2009, bringing together regulatory authorities from the continent to share experience and promote knowledge management in all areas related to nuclear safety.

In 2012 South Africa and the IAEA signed an agreement concerning the provision of financial assistance in respect of the improvement of veterinary laboratory capacities in Sub-Saharan African countries with a view to support Sub-Saharan African countries affected by trans-boundary diseases through building and enhancing capacities for animal disease diagnosis in a sustainable manner.

Through its subsidiary NTP, NECSA is one of the largest supplier of medical isotopes in the world, selling isotopes to nearly 60 countries on five continents.

Website: www.iaea.org

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