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19. September 2014

STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR TEBOGO SEOKOLO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF SOUTH AFRICA ON THE OCCASION OF THE IAEA BOARD OF GOVERNORS, 19 SEPTEMBER 2014, VIENNA, AUSTRIA

THE CONCEPTUALIZATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF SAFEGUARDS IMPLEMENTATION AT THE STATE LEVEL

Chairperson,

My delegation would like to take this opportunity to thank the DG for his remarks on the State Level Concept. We particularly wish to commend DDG Tero Varjoranta, and his team for all their efforts since the beginning of this year.  We have had seven technical briefings on the State Level Concept, resulting in the Supplementary Document contained in GOV/2014/41 and a corrigendum as GOV/2014/41/Corr.1.  We believe that the Supplementary Document is an improved document as a result of this robust consultation process. 

We have noted the Director General’s statement that this document would be the reference point should any inconsistency be identified in the two documents: that is, the September 2013 document on the State Level Concept, and the Supplementary Document.  We also welcome the assurance, both in the report and in his statement, that the SLC does not, and will not, entail the introduction of additional rights or obligations on the part of either States or the Agency, nor does it involve any modification in the existing rights and obligations.  We have decided therefore in the light of the above, not to spend time in this Board meeting, repeating our concerns which we have consistently expressed on both documents, the core of which revolve around the possibility of subjectivity in the application of state specific factors.  In this regard we welcome the DG’s and DDG’s assurance in this Board meeting and throughout the document that the state specific factors will be objectively applied. We will continue to monitor this aspect in the application of safeguards in my country.

South Africa has consistently and in various fora, expressed support for measures that would strengthen the safeguards system.  Safeguards are not an objective in itself but an essential part of our efforts to achieve and maintain a world free of nuclear weapons.  Non-proliferation and the related safeguards obligations have not been accepted in isolation but on the basis of a grand bargain that also includes nuclear disarmament obligations and an undertaking to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. 

But of course strengthened safeguards are about more than rights and obligations, fundamental as they are.   Safeguards contribute to mutual confidence in the peaceful nature of a State’s nuclear activities and the absence of undeclared nuclear activities or material, which in turn would greatly facilitate the transfer of nuclear technology and use of nuclear material to the benefit of developing countries. 

There are a number of elements which contribute to confidence in the safeguards system.  It is essential that safeguards measures should not adversely affect the inalienable right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.  It is important for Member States and the Secretariat to have a clear and common understanding on safeguards both at the conceptual and implementation level.  The system has to be fair by being applied to all States based on their safeguards agreements and limit the scope for subjectivity as far as possible. 

While South Africa recognizes that Additional Protocol is not an obligation under the NPT, we believe it contributes to enhanced confidence by enabling the IAEA to provide credible assurances regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities.

It is this understanding that informed South Africa’s participation through-out the deliberations on the state-level concept.  We welcome the Agency’s decision to draw a broader conclusion on South Africa, a firm assurance that South Africa’s nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful in nature.  We are looking forward to a discussion with the Agency on the future implementation of safeguards in South Africa taking into consideration deliberations on the safeguards system thus far. We hope that the proposed measures will progressively reduce the level of effort put on inspections in countries, including in my own country, based on objectively applied state specific factors.

In conclusion, my delegation notes the DGs statement that safeguards implementation is constantly evolving and we stand ready to engage constructively in the necessary discussions, consultations and decisions as appropriate by the IAEA policy making organs to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the safeguards system.  On this issue, we believe that Action 32 of the 2010 NPT Review Conference strikes the correct balance.  While the Conference recommends that IAEA safeguards should be assessed and evaluated regularly, it states that the decisions adopted by the Agency’s decision making bodies aimed at further strengthening the efficiency and improving the effectiveness of IAEA safeguards should be supported and implemented.  In this context there is a need for the DG to indicate the nature and form that consultations on the safeguards would take in the light of deliberations during the current session of the Board.

In conclusion my delegation notes the Supplementary Document as contained in document GOV/2014/41and Corrigendum contained in GOV/2014/41/Corr.1.

I thank you

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