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Cablegate: Nuclear Jscnec Looking for More Substance, But

VZCZCXYZ0004
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSA #4172/01 3460637
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 120637Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2939
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0712
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 0268
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0592
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1380
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0715
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 0545
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1239
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0233
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0512
RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 5136
RUCPDC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 0246

UNCLAS PRETORIA 004172

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG TRGY KNNP PREL BEXP IAEA SF
SUBJECT: NUCLEAR JSCNEC LOOKING FOR MORE SUBSTANCE, BUT
DELAYED TO JUNE

REF: A. YOUNG-HUMPHREY-BURKART E-MAILS
B. PRETORIA 3674
C. PRETORIA 3584

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The SAG organized an inter-agency meeting
in early December to establish a common approach to advancing
U.S.-South African nuclear cooperation. They determined that
the SAG's highest priority is to gain signatory authority for
the long-awaited bilateral Agreement on Cooperation in
Research and Development in Nuclear Technology. The SAG
opted to delay hosting the proposed bilateral Joint Standing
Committee on Nuclear Energy Cooperation (JSCNEC) from
February to June to allow sufficient time to commit to and
organize preparations for the event. The SAG was unable to
respond to the short-notice invitation to attend as an
observer at the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP)
Steering Committee in Vienna December 11-13. The SAG is
still evaluating its position vis-a-vis GNEP, so there
remains an opportunity to pitch getting South Africa inside
this initiative. End Summary.

---------------------------------
DFA and DME Forge Common Approach
---------------------------------

2. (SBU) Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) Chief
Director: Nuclear Tseliso Maqubela informed Energy Officer
that DFA and DME had participated in a useful planning
meeting in early December to establish a common approach to
moving forward on key bilateral areas of nuclear cooperation.
Maqubela had encouraged Embassy to send a diplomatic note to
the DFA asking for JSNEC dates to spur the inter-agency
process. Maqubela believes this diplomatic note is what
prompted the DFA to seek the planning meeting with the DME.

---------------------------------------
Nuclear R&D Agreement - Merry Christmas
---------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Maqubela told Energy Officer the "Agreement Between
the Government of the United States of America and the
Government of the Republic of South Africa for Cooperation in
Research and Development in Nuclear Technology" was being
certified at DFA and could be completed and approved by the
end of the year, for possible signing early in 2008. Both he
and DFA sources stressed that gaining signatory approval for
this long-awaited nuclear cooperation agreement was their
highest priority. Moreover, having the signed R&D agreement
in hand would provide a fruitful foundation for framing the
JSCNEC meeting and discussions. Maqubela said the DFA-DME
team had confirmed that completing the nuclear R&D agreement
was not/not in conflict with the Eskom new nuclear build
process, because they involve different government players.
(Note: Westinghouse is competing with Areva of France for the
first tranche of nuclear power plants for state electricity
supplier Eskom and is likely to win if it is left up to
merit, based on its localization and technology transfer
credentials. End Note.)

--------------------------------------------- -----
Let's Get the JSCNEC Right: Delayed, But Empowered
--------------------------------------------- -----

4. (SBU) According to Maqubela, the SAG decided to delay
Q4. (SBU) According to Maqubela, the SAG decided to delay
the proposed JSCNEC from February to June to allow sufficient
time to organize participation and determine appropriate
format and topics. DFA Deputy Director: Nuclear Disarmament
and Non-Proliferation Michiel Combrink separately
corroborated this information to Acting Political Counselor
on December 7, confirming that his top priority was to
finalize the nuclear R&D agreement. DFA Deputy Director: USA
Liezl Combrink also confirmed this approach to Econonomic
Counselor. Maqubela said DFA would lead the JSCNEC
preparations, comparable to State Department's lead from the
U.S. side. He opined that postponing the meeting would avoid


distraction and over-shadowing from current domestic
political events. (Note: a likely reference to next week's
ANC leadership elections. End Note.) Maqubela added that
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Agencies in Vienna Greg Schulte and
DFA Deputy Director General Abdul Minty had established an
excellent working relationship for advancing bilateral
nuclear cooperation.

-------------------------------------
Still Pondering GNEP - Need More Time
-------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Maqubela informed Energy Officer that he would not
be able to participate in the GNEP Steering Committee in
Vienna December 11-13. He said he would have more time to
work closely with USDOE and State on this and other
initiatives in 2008, noting that he has been relieved of his
responsibilities for consulting at Eskom on the bid for new
nuclear plant build, which had occupied up to 50 percent of
his time. DFA Deputy Director Michiel Combrink told Acting
Political Counselor the decision not to participate as
observer at this GNEP meeting was partly based on proximate
timing and partly based on the need for further
inter-departmental consultation to determine SAG's policy
with respect to GNEP. The decision not to participate in
this particular meeting was not a definitive view. Maqubela
reminded Energy Officer that his office faced significant
capacity constraints in handling the variety of nuclear
energy issues on its plate and this affected his ability to
assess GNEP.

-----------------------------
Comment - Good News, Bad News
-----------------------------

6. (SBU) JSCNEC: DFA is now fully engaged and committed to
working the DME-proposed JSCNEC initiative and "buys in" to
the need for regular bilateral dialogue on nuclear issues.
DFA advocates working with DME on a meatier framework for the
JSCNEC, including potentially showcasing the long-sought
bilateral nuclear R&D agreement. The SAG's decision to delay
(yet again) the launching of the JSCNEC from the February
date tabled during the bilateral discussions with DME in
Washington last April is disappointing, but may ultimately
bind the SAG to working towards a successful event at the
newly mooted time-frame of June in South Africa.

7. (SBU) GNEP: The SAG has not said no to GNEP, but remains
circumspect, given its oft-stated commitment to consider
developing its capacity in the full range of the nuclear fuel
cycle, including beneficiating and enriching its uranium
resources, and potentially reprocessing of spent-fuel,
consistent with its broader non-proliferation, minerals and
energy policies. Post would welcome additional guidance and
arguments from the Department and USDOE on the benefits of
South Africa's participation in GNEP in order to influence
the initiative from the inside.
BOST

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