For the first time since 1959, a South African Ambassador will chair the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Ambassador Tebogo Seokolo was appointed on 2 October to chair the strategic multilateral body, which has the responsibility to ensure the safe use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
Ambassador Seokolo will serve as chairperson for the next year. The position provides South Africa with a strategic opportunity to support UN member states pursuing nuclear energy to generate electricity.
South Africa is a founding member of the IAEA and attaches great importance to the mandate of the agency. This year marks the 25th anniversary of South Africa’s accession to the Nuclear Non-
Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and the signing and the entry into force of the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement (CSA) with the IAEA.
It also marks the 20th anniversary of the Treaty of Pelindaba, which created an African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone as a means towards the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free world.
The IAEA also uses nuclear techniques to detect and treat animal diseases, which impact on human health. It is understood 70 percent of human diseases directly emanate from animal diseases. South Africa is highly regarded by IAEA member states due to the development of its peaceful nuclear programme. South Africa is the second largest producer of medical isotopes, which are used in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Through its research reactor, SAFARI-1, which has for over 50 years operated safely, securely and reliably, South Africa exports this life-saving treatment to more than 60 countries.