SA and France to sign nuclear deal
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A day after Russian nuclear vendor Rosatom backtracked on claims it had concluded a deal with South Africa to build nuclear power stations, President Jacob Zuma has given his energy minister the go-ahead to sign a nuclear energy co-operation deal with France.
Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said yesterday that Zuma had granted Energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson authority under section 231 of the Constitution, to sign with the French.
The details would be discussed between the Energy Department and its French counterparts, Maharaj said.
This follows an outcry over the deal signed with Rosatom under mysterious circumstances last month.
Rosatom issued a statement at the time claiming the deal was in the bag for it to build eight of its VVER power stations in South Africa, but this was followed shortly afterwards by denials from the Energy Department, despite the wording of the statement issued by both parties appearing to confirm the Russian version. On Thursday, Rosatom told Business Day the details of the deal had been “lost in translation”, and that its statement had been incorrectly worded.
But DA energy spokesman Lance Greyling said yesterday Joemat-Pettersson and Rosatom officials should appear before Parliament’s energy committee “to account for what appears to be a nuclear deal riddled with irregularities”.
The minister should provide details on the authority she relied on in signing the deal, clarify whether she had obtained advice from the state law adviser before doing so, and provide Parliament with the relevant documentation.
Both the Russian and South African officials have said the contents of the deal will not be made public as it contains proprietary information that could prejudice the Russian bid.
The Energy Department’s latest draft of its blueprint for electricity supply, the Integrated Resource Plan, warns against committing to a nuclear build programme before other, possibly cheaper options, were fully explored.
It recommends the government wait until 2018 before taking “the nuclear decision”, and says gas might prove to be a viable alternative for baseload energy supply.
But Energy Department deputy director-general for nuclear, Zizamele Mbambo, said last week that procurement of 9.6GW of nuclear energy would definitely go ahead. He said the procurement process might be done through intergovernmental negotiation.
- Saturday Argus