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07. März 2016

SOUTH AFRICAN STATEMENT DELIVERED BY AMBASSADOR TEBOGO SEOKOLO, GOVERNOR/RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA TO THE IAEA, BOARD OF GOVERNORS, 7-11 MARCH 2016, VIENNA, AUSTRIA

AGENDA ITEM 2: STRENGTHENING THE AGENCY'S ACTIVITIES RELATED TO NUCLEAR, RADIATION, TRANSPORT AND WASTE SAFETY: NUCLEAR SAFETY REVIEW 2016

Chairperson,

South Africa associates itself with the statements delivered by H.E Ambassador Simon Madjumo Maruta, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and by H.E Ambassador Mohammed Hussein Hassan Zaroug, on behalf of the African Group. I would like to make the following remarks in my national capacity.

Chairperson,

1. Last month I, together with some of our colleagues, had the opportunity of being part of a delegation that visited Japan at the invitation of the Japanese Foreign Ministry. During this visit, we interacted with high ranking officials, relevant government institutions and entities including the Japanese nuclear regulator.

2. Our visit to Fukushima nuclear power plant was in my view the highlight of the visit especially in the context of the report that is before this Board. In Fukushima, I witnessed the impact of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident on the socio-economic life of the people of Fukushima and the surrounding areas as well as its impact on the environment.

3. We salute the courage and resilience of the people of Japan, particularly the employees of the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plants for withstanding and overcoming the trauma associated with the accident and the efforts by the government of Japan to restore life to normalcy in Fukushima and surrounding areas. There is no doubt that it will take some time before the situation is completely stabilized.

4. It is in this context, Mr Chairperson that we welcome the Nuclear Safety Review 2016 Report, particularly the efforts by the Agency to strengthen the global nuclear safety framework. Indeed one of the notable highlights of this report is the release last year of the Director General’s Report on the Fukushima Daiichi Accident along with five technical volumes.  Similarly, the report before us alludes to the Diplomatic Conference of the Contracting Parties of the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) held in Vienna in 2015, which adopted the Vienna Declaration on Nuclear Safety. This Declaration, if fully implemented, will go a long way in contributing towards strengthening global nuclear safety particularly in preventing accidents with radiological consequences and to mitigating such consequences should they occur.

Mr Chairperson,

5. South Africa values and is appreciative of the continued work of the IAEA in the enhancement of nuclear safety and security world-wide especially in providing assistance to Member States in the safe and secure development of nuclear energy and use of nuclear technology; improving nuclear safety standards and Peer Review Services or Missions.

6. Nuclear safety is of outmost important to South Africa especially because the country hosts a research reactor, SAFARI-1 which last year celebrated 50 years of safe operation. South Africa also hosts Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant with two units which were commissioned in 1984 and 1985 respectively. We have also initiated a process to embark on a new nuclear build programme.

7. South Africa is currently considering extending the life of the two units at Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant. In this regard, in November 2015, South Africa hosted the IAEA SALTO mission in order to review the programmes and activities of Koeberg. We are pleased to note that the SALTO team concluded that Koeberg is committed to improving plant preparedness for long term operation. However, the team has also identified some areas of improvement which are receiving attention.

8. To strengthen and enhance the effectiveness of its nuclear national regulatory framework, South Africa has also extended the invitation to the IAEA to undertake the Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission. We are pleased to note that the IRRS pre-mission will take place in June 2016 and the mission itself in December 2016. We are looking forward to a fruitful and successful engagement between South Africa and the Agency.

9. South Africa continues to give attention to strengthening its emergency and preparedness measures. In 2014, South Africa hosted Emergency Preparedness Review (EPREV) mission which amongst others, highlighted the need to improve the country’s arrangement for emergencies involving radioactive sources. Efforts are currently underway to harmonize the applicable legislations and address identified gaps. 

10. In conclusion Mr Chairperson, South Africa will, upon request, continue to share its expertise and knowledge with other countries on the African Continent. Similarly, we will continue to collaborate with the IAEA in a series of activities, projects and programmes aimed at strengthening Member States efforts related to nuclear safety.

11. In this regard, in October last year, South Africa hosted a regional meeting to promote the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management to encourage IAEA Member States from the African Continent that are not Contracting Parties to accede to the Joint Convention.

12. With these remarks, my delegation takes note of the Director General’s report contained in document GOV/2016/2.

I thank you.

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