The demand for nuclear power continues to grow, demonstrating that nuclear remains a viable option for countries around the world, Energy Deputy Minister Thembi Majola said on Tuesday.
"The report published by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the 'International Status and Prospects for Nuclear Power 2017' indicates that there are 447 operational nuclear power reactors in 30 countries and 60 are under construction in 15 countries. It similarly illustrates that the demand for nuclear power is on a positive trajectory, demonstrating that it remains a viable option for member states," said the Deputy Minister.
Speaking at the 61st Session of the IAEA General Conference in Vienna, Austria, the Deputy Minister said energy security is central to economic development across the world.
She said South Africa -- which forms part of the atomic energy agency's member states -- has an excellent track record for safely operating its nuclear facilities for over 50 years, as nuclear power is an integral part of the country's energy mix.
"Through our nuclear power plant Koeberg, the country has demonstrated its ability for long-term, safe operation. This is currently the lowest operating cost station in South Africa. In order to ensure energy security and mitigate the carbon footprint, we are engaged in efforts to expand our nuclear programme," said the Deputy Minister.
Deputy Minister Majola said South Africa is looking forward to participating in the forthcoming IAEA International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century. The conference will provide an opportunity for discussion and the exchange of views on the key issues related to the development and deployment of nuclear power.
She said South Africa remains committed to ensuring and maintaining effective nuclear security measures in respect of all nuclear and other radioactive material.
"[This is] in accordance with our national and international obligations, and we therefore welcome the entry into force of the 2005 Amendment to Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. National efforts are at an advanced stage to ratify the amended convention."
Deputy Minister Majola said nuclear security remains a global concern, which requires international cooperation. In this context, South Africa welcomes the outcome of the International Nuclear Security Conference, held in December 2016, where member states reaffirmed their collective commitment to nuclear security, while recognising that it must be addressed in a comprehensive manner.
"South Africa further wishes to underscore that measures to strengthen nuclear security should not hamper member states inalienable right to pursue the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
South Africa welcomes and supports the adoption of the IAEA Nuclear Security Plan for 2018-2021 by consensus at the recent Board of Governors meeting. Undoubtedly this Plan will go a long way in assisting the IAEA to support member states in their efforts to strengthen their respective nuclear security regimes."
The Deputy Minister said South Africa will review its nuclear security plan to align it, where appropriate, with international best practice.