Global nuclear security will top South Africa’s foreign agenda this week as International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane leads a delegation to the US for the international nuclear security summit. The department said this was the fourth summit of its kind since global leaders forged a common approach to nuclear security and the threat posed by nuclear terrorism.
“South Africa is committed to promoting a multilateral approach to nuclear security which upholds the centrality of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United Nations (UN), and which respects the international rule of law and the principles enshrined in the UN Charter,” the department said.
“It is envisaged the 2016 summit will mark a transition from a dedicated leader-level process to subsequent efforts within the relevant international organisations such as the IAEA.”
Last year, Cabinet approved South Africa’s nuclear procurement deal, estimated to cost the country about R1 trillion. The plan is to build nuclear power stations with the ability to provide 9 600MW to the national grid. The deal has been largely criticised because it was too expensive in the current economic climate. Cheaper options to ease power constraints, like hydro power, should be considered first, critics say.
International ratings agency Moody’s is currently assessing high-risk projects to determine whether SA may face another downgrade. Russia has stood out as the frontrunner to win the build project. The Mail & Guardian reported earlier this month that Russian state nuclear firm Rosatom has argued that SA stood to gain not lose financially.
According to the newspaper, the nuclear programme could create over 10 000 jobs during construction, 10 000 jobs in related industries and consumer goods, and just over 5 700 jobs during the operation of new nuclear plants.
Eskom said yesterday nuclear energy provided 11% of the world’s electricity needs. Eskom’s Koeberg nuclear power station in Cape Town supplies 1 860MW or about 4.4% of SA’s total electricity needs and powers most of the Western Cape.