27 March 2012
South African President Jacob Zuma, speaking at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea on Monday, stressed the importance of remaining alert to the risks posed by nuclear terrorism.
“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,” Zuma said during a Leaders’ Working Dinner at the summit.
“We can, through a cooperative approach in the relevant multilateral organisations, effectively deal with these risks.”
‘Elimination ultimately the only prevention’
Zuma noted that the leaders were meeting at the summit with the common aim of achieving a world free of weapons of mass destruction, in particular nuclear weapons.
“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.”
Zuma also noted the need to fully implement the relevant international legally binding obligations on nuclear security and nuclear safety.
Such an approach had proved invaluable when South Africa hosted the 2010 Fifa World Cup, Zuma said, thanking the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the US government for their assistance with nuclear security measures at the different World Cup venues.
Highly enriched uranium ‘for peaceful uses only’
On the issue of highly enriched uranium (HEU), Zuma acknowledged that HEU and separated plutonium required special precautions, adding that South Africa had 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,” Zuma said. “In this connection, South Africa has adopted a policy on the beneficiation of our mineral resources, including uranium.”
South Africa believed the focus on minimising the use of HEU to peaceful applications – which represented a tiny fraction of the HEU used for military purposes – should come to fruition in the long-outstanding negotiations on a fissile material treaty, Zuma added.
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,” Zuma said. “Therefore, our future emphasis should be on supporting the work on nuclear safety and security undertaken by existing multilateral organizations such as the IAEA.”