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Uranium stockpile will stay in country

South African International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. File photo: Phill Magakoe

South African International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. File photo: Phill Magakoe

Published Mar 19, 2015

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Johannesburg - International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane made it very clear on Wednesday that South Africa was not going to hand over its stockpile of weapons-grade uranium to the US or anybody else.

“That would be an admission that we are unable to be not only a producer, but a safe custodian of the technology for peaceful means,” she said at a press conference in Pretoria on Wednesday.

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“So no, we are not handing over to anybody else, not because we are against anyone, but because we think we have all the safeguards.”

She was referring to the stockpile of highly enriched uranium (HEU) extracted in 1990 from the six or seven nuclear bombs the apartheid government had built.

It is now stored in the Pelindaba Nuclear Research Centre, west of Pretoria.

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According to a report by the Center for Public Integrity, a non-profit American investigative news organisation, US President Barack Obama has been urging President Jacob Zuma since 2011 to hand over the 220kg of HEU, which it fears could fall into the hands of terrorists.

But Nkoana-Mashabane was adamant that “we are not about to be handing over any of our material to anybody for safekeeping”.

“No, it’s going to be kept safely in the new democratic, non-racial South Africa.”

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Independent Foreign Service

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