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Cablegate: South Africa Still Working On U.S.- South Africa

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSA #3077 2431543
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 311543Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1495
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0651
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1281
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0659
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1149
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0219
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0498
RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 4777
RUCPDC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 0210
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS PRETORIA 003077

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/S, EEB/ESC, ISN
DOE FOR SPERL, PERSON, BIENAWSKI, AND PARKER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG PARM PREL KNNP KTIA IAEA SF
SUBJECT: SOUTH AFRICA STILL WORKING ON U.S.- SOUTH AFRICA
AGREEMENT TO TAKE BACK U.S.- ORIGIN SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL

REF: A. PRETORIA 2494
B. PRETORIA 317

1. (SBU) In a wide ranging meeting on August 27 between DME
Chief Director: Nuclear Tselio Maqubela and Economic
Counselor and Minerals-Energy Officer, Maqubela identified
two issues blocking SAG agreement to return U.S.-origin spent
nuclear fuel. Maqubela described the first issue as
relatively easy to be resolved: both South African NECSA
(Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa) and DOE were
working to complete the "invoice trail" for the U.S.-origin
nuclear fuel. He described the second issue as a potential
"show stopper". According to Maqubela, in order for the SAG
to participate in the USG-supported spent fuel return
program, under U.S. law the SAG would have to formally agree
to "never load HEU into its research reactor". While it is
SAG intent to take advantage of benefits under the program
and to convert the reactor to use only LEU, Maqubela said it
would be politically prohibitive for the SAG to give up a
sovereign right in order to participate in a voluntary
program. He wondered whether DOE would be able to find
creative phrasing to meet both the requirement of the U.S.
law and SAG political sensitivities, thus allowing him to
fruitfully raise this issue with his principals.

2. (SBU) In a separate conversation, Westinghouse SA General
Manager Rita Bowser, explained that she had extensive
experience with the spent fuel program and suggested that DOE
consider wording to the effect: "The U.S. recognizes that
S.A. is converting its reactor to LEU. When S.A. is finished
converting, the U.S. will take S.A.'s spent fuel back." This
might give the U.S. the necessary assurance that S.A. will
not be loading HEU into its research reactor without
requiring the SAG to give up its sovereign right.
Teitelbaum

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