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South Africa involved in two nuclear-related developments coinciding on two different continents this week.The Deputy Minister of Energy, Ambassador Thembisile Majola, is leading the South African delegation to the 61st Session of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference in Vienna, this week.

Coinciding with the conference, South African President Jacob Zuma signed the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in New York.

Zuma signs nuclear treaty

The South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa), issued a statement expressing their support of Zuma entering the country into a United Nations alliance of over 40 countries banning the use of nuclear weapons.

Group Necsa CEO, Phumzile Tshelane, said: “The African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty, also known as the Treaty of Pelindaba established a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Africa.

“The treaty was signed in 1996 and came into effect with the 28th ratification on 15 July 2009. This signing in New York marks a continuation of South Africa’s commitment to maintaining a nuclear weapon free zone.”

South Africa remains the one and only country that has ever voluntarily disbanded its nuclear weapons programme, which the government did towards the end of apartheid.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

In Vienna, the IAEA conference has considered, among others, resolutions reflecting on the progress made since the previous General Conference.

The Department of Energy (DoE) noted: “With a particular focus on how Nuclear Science is used to assist States to attain their national and regional development goals; measures to strengthen the safety and security of nuclear facilities and radioactive material; as well as efforts to ensure that States’ nuclear material are only utilised for peaceful purposes.” Read more...

In her address to the Conference, Majola used the opportunity to congratulate the IAEA for its continuous efforts in assisting Member States to use Nuclear Science and Technology for their socio-economic development, the DoE said in a statement.

The Deputy Minister particularly applauded the IAEA for its efforts through the Technical Cooperation Programme in applying the latest techniques in nuclear science to mitigate the effects of diseases that affect wildlife, livestock and humans.

In this context Deputy Minister Majola congratulated the IAEA for the ongoing project to renovate its Nuclear Application Laboratories which are based in Seibersdorf.

Through these laboratories the IAEA offers advance training, research and development opportunities to scientists and experts particularly from the developing countries.

Key takeaways

One of the key outcomes of the Conference was the affirmation of the central role nuclear energy plays in enhancing global energy capacity.

The Conference highlighted amongst others, the trend which demonstrates the increasing number of countries that are utilising nuclear power to diversify their energy mix.

For example, the IAEA in its report entitled “International Status and Prospects for Nuclear Power 2017”, illustrated that the worldwide demand for nuclear power is on a positive trajectory with 447 nuclear power reactors operational in 30 countries, and 60 under construction in 15 countries.

The DoE added that Majola met with the Minister of Mines and Energy of Namibia to discuss issues of mutual interest between the two countries.

 

Featured image: Stock