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Cablegate: Progress On Bilateral Nuclear Initiatives

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSA #3589/01 2841439
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 111439Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2243
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0670
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1326
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0677
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1182
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0225
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0504
RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 4948
RUCPDC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 0232
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS PRETORIA 003589

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/S, EEB/ESC, ISN
DOE FOR T.SPERL, G.PERSON, A.BIENAWSKI, L.PARKER, M.SCOTT,
M.CLAPPER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG TRGY KNNP PREL BEXP IAEA SF
SUBJECT: PROGRESS ON BILATERAL NUCLEAR INITIATIVES

REF: A. STATE 141182
B. DOE SCOTT - YOUNG E-MAIL DRAFT POINTS ON R&D
AGREEMENT
C. PRETORIA 3447

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Minerals/Energy Officer delivered Ref A
message that outstanding issues had been resolved allowing
South Africa to move forward on implementing the program for
the return of U.S.-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) spent
fuel. The SAG is receptive to moving forward on a number of
nuclear cooperation initiatives (Ref C), but is sensitive to
appear even-handed between the U.S. and French governments in
the run-up to awarding the contract for new nuclear power
plants. This will make it difficult to launch new bilateral
nuclear initiatives in the near term. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Success Story on Return of U.S.-Origin HEU Spent
Fuel: Minerals/Energy Officer delivered the message in Ref A
to Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) Chief Director:
Nuclear Tseliso Maqubela on October 10 that the remaining
issues had been resolved and the SAG could now move forward
on implementing the program for the return of U.S.-origin HEU
spent fuel. Per Ref A instructions, Minerals/Energy Officer
passed the data-sheet on South Africa HEU inventory and
informed Maqubela that DOE National Nuclear Security
Administration (NNSA) would follow up with details on
implementation.

3. (SBU) Bilateral Agreement on Cooperation on R&D in
Nuclear Technology: Minerals/Energy Officer delivered draft
points that DOE is ready to move forward on signing this
agreement and is waiting to discuss with the SAG details on
where and when to plan the signing. Maqubela said that the
DME was eager to move forward on this initiative, noting that
the DME was close to achieving its SAG inter-agency signing
authority.

4. (SBU) Maqubela stated that DME wished to move forward on
a number of multilateral and bilateral nuclear initiatives
already well underway, noting that he was still in
discussions with the DOE on the Global Nuclear Energy
Partnership (Ref C). He stated, however, that his staff was
stretched thin and his office's priority was new build of
nuclear power plants. Repeating an earlier theme, Maqubela
stressed that his staff would have to be careful to appear
even-handed with the U.S. and French governments (since
Westinghouse and Areva are the contenders). Therefore, he
stated that it may be difficult to advance the Joint Standing
Committe on Nuclear Cooperation (JSCNC) at this time, since
it would be a new bilateral initiative with the U.S.

5. (SBU) Economic Counselor and Minerals/Energy Officer will
meet with DME Deputy Director General for Electricity and
Nuclear Energy Nelisiwe Magubane on October 16 to seek to
advance these nuclear and other initiatives.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: Post believes that a more flexible
approach would be more likely to secure South Africa's
participation in the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership
(GNEP). The obstacle has been South Africa's reluctance to
forgo the option of uranium enrichment as a perceived
condition of membership, because of its published plans to
beneficiate its uranium reserves and supply its budding
nuclear power capacity, while maintaining its international
non-proliferation obligations. Including an acknowledgement
of South Africa's intention to consider enrichment for its
own use could help the country over this obstacle. Bringing
South Africa into the GNEP fold as a key "southern" partner
could later assist in recruiting other developing countries
to participate in GNEP.

7. (SBU) COMMENT CONTINUED: Minerals/Energy Officer called
Maqubela on October 10 amid afternoon thunderstorms, rolling
black-outs, and consequent traffic jams. He complained that
his DME offices were dark because of Eskom's load shedding
power cuts due to unseasonable cold, rainy weather and
planned and unplanned outages at power plants, resulting in a
shortfall in power capacity of about 20 percent. Maqubela
has no illusions about the need to move forward quickly to
address South Africa's growing demand for electric power.
Ball

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