South Africa: SA Uranium Enrichment for Civilian Purposes – Cabinet

South Africa: SA Uranium Enrichment for Civilian Purposes – Cabinet

Cabinet has emphasised that the initiative to enrich uranium was for civilian purposes only – aimed at meeting the country’s long-term energy needs.

Addressing the media in Cape Town on Thursday, government spokesperson Themba Maseko said concerns about the initiative to enrich uranium were unfounded as there could be “no doubt that our programme is for civilian purposes”.

“South Africa is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and an active member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“We have neither the intention nor any reason to develop nuclear weapons. In developing the proposal, the government will ensure full compliance with international conventions and protocols,” he explained.

Mr Maseko added that a final policy and implementation plan would be presented to Cabinet once a feasibility study regarding the matter had been conducted.

Last month, Minerals and Energy Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said the country was grappling with the issue of expanding the role of nuclear energy.

In this regard, she said the expansion of peaceful uses of nuclear energy worldwide was ‘looking more and more irreversible”.

“Recent events worldwide continue to demonstrate that energy is the lifeblood of economies of the world,” she said.

She expressed her belief that nuclear energy would play a significant role in fulfilling the world’s energy needs, adding that countries like China and India were already building a number of nuclear power plants and that the Russian Federation had recently announced a massive new nuclear programme.

The minister said by 2030, South Africa should have added at least another 5000MW of nuclear energy to fulfill its electricity needs.

“This is not an insignificant task taking into account that this means building between four and six new nuclear reactors. I certainly believe that the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) will definitely contribute to that new nuclear build.

“A nuclear build programme of that magnitude also requires us to look at the fuel, which in this case is provided by uranium. South Africa possesses uranium reserves enough to fuel such a nuclear energy programme,” she explained, adding that recent trends pointed to a continuing increase in the uranium price in the market.

Ms Sonjica however said the beneficiation [processing] of uranium came with own responsibilities and sensitivities, and emphasised that South Africa would pursue it within national and international obligations. –

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