Statement by President of the Republic of South Africa HE Jacob Zuma, at the Leaders’ Working Dinner hosted by President of the Republic of Korea HE Lee Myung-bak at the Nuclear Security Summit, Seoul, Republic of Korea
26 March 2012
On behalf of the Government and People of the Republic of South Africa, I sincerely thank President Lee for hosting us at this follow-up Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul.
South Africa and South Korea mark the 20th of our bilateral relations, which makes this visit more special for us.
This nuclear Summit takes place just over a year after the devastating earthquake and tsunami that occurred on 11 March 2011 in Japan.
We remember those that lost their lives and many who suffered so greatly in that tragedy. We commend the tireless efforts of those that assisted the victims of this tragedy.
We continue to support the Government and People of Japan in dealing with the effects of this devastation.
We meet here conscious of our common objective to achieve a world free of weapons of mass destruction, and in particular nuclear weapons.
The Nuclear Security Summit takes place within this overall framework of our common nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation objectives.
In our desire to create a forum to
raise awareness on nuclear
security, we cannot ignore the
reality that only the verifiable and
irreversible elimination of nuclear
weapons will ultimately prevent
the use of such weapons.
South Africa welcomes the progress made to strengthen nuclear security on a national level, since our Summit meeting in Washington, D.C., and also through the relevant multilateral organizations, especially the IAEA.
However, we should not become complacent.
We should remain vigilant of the continued risks posed by nuclear terrorism, the illicit nuclear network and criminal acts, and the use of nuclear or other radioactive material for malicious acts.
We can, through a co-operative approach in the relevant multilateral organisations, effectively deal with these risks.
We are also aware of the necessity to fully implement relevant international legally binding obligations on nuclear security and nuclear safety.
Such an approach proved invaluable when South Africa hosted the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup.
Let me take this opportunity to thank the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Government of the United States of America for their assistance in facilitating the implementation of nuclear security measures at the different World Cup venues, thereby contributing to its great success.
Nuclear energy provides not only for the expanded opportunity to generate power needed for our development.
We also derive infinite value from its application to health, nutrition and agriculture. South Africa contributes to these applications through the supply of medical isotopes.
With the appreciated assistance of the Government of the United States of America, South Africa is now producing these isotopes on a large scale using low enriched uranium fuel.
This technical achievement is a welcome addition to the capability to produce such isotopes using highly enriched uranium (HEU).
We agree that highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium require special precautions, and indeed South Africa has taken such precautions.
Our international legally binding obligations on nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation allow for the enrichment of uranium for peaceful purposes only, irrespective of the enrichment level.
In this connection, South Africa has adopted a policy on the beneficiation of our mineral resources, including uranium.
South Africa believes that the focus on minimising the use of HEU in peaceful applications, which represents a tiny fraction of HEU used for military purposes, should come to fruition in the long outstanding negotiations on a fissile material treaty.
These negotiations should commence in the Conference on Disarmament without further delay.
Going forward, we believe that the best approach would be to address the issues of nuclear safety and nuclear security in a coherent manner.
Therefore, our future emphasis should be on supporting the work on nuclear safety and security undertaken by existing multilateral organizations such as the IAEA.
I thank you.