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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05PRETORIA3477 2005-08-26 14:28:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Pretoria
Cable title:  

SOUTH AFRICA: AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH MINISTER OF

Tags:   KNNP ENRG TRGY OPDC SF 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 003477 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NP/NE/ABURKART, AF/S/KGAITHER
DEPT OF ENERGY FOR NE-2.4, NNSA/NA-243/MMANNING, NA-241,
AND NA-21/ABIENIAWSKI

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/25/2015
TAGS: KNNP ENRG TRGY OPDC SF
SUBJECT: SOUTH AFRICA: AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH MINISTER OF
MINERALS AND ENERGY TO DISCUSS CLOSER BILATERAL RELATIONS
ON NUCLEAR ENERGY

REF: A. PRETORIA 2923


B. SECSTATE 92684

C. PRETORIA 1974

Classified By: Amb. J.E. Frazer; Reasons E.O. 12958 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (SBU) Summary. Ambassador Frazer and DCM met with
Minister of Minerals and Energy Lindiwe Hendricks on August
22 to discuss the path forward on nuclear energy bilateral
cooperation. Ambassador Frazer framed U.S.-South African
cooperation on nuclear energy in the context of the broader
bilateral relationship, affirmed by the June Statement from
Presidents Bush and Mbeki. Hendricks agreed that South
Africa's collaboration on nuclear energy was part of broader
bilateral relations with the United States. She indicated
that positive responses to Secretary Rice's letter of May 19
and Secretary Bodman's letter of July 22 were forthcoming.
She also said that both sides should do "what needed to be
done to establish" a Joint Standing Committee on Nuclear
Energy Cooperation (JSCNEC). Hendricks said that South
Africa viewed the research and development agreements with
the United States, one on nuclear energy and the other on
nuclear materials safeguards technologies, as "part of a
bigger package" regarding nuclear bilateral cooperation on
which South Africa was almost ready to move forward.
Hendricks also said that South Africa was interested in
returning U.S. origin spent fuel assemblies as well as other
areas of scientific and technical cooperation. The
Ambassador noted that Secretary Rice may be visiting South
Africa in the near future, and that this might be a good time
to launch the Joint Standing Committee with joint Department
of State and Department of Energy participation. End Summary.



2. (SBU) Ambassador Frazer, DCM Donald Teitelbaum, and Econ
M/C Jeff Hartley met with Minister of Minerals and Energy
Lindiwe Hendricks and Deputy Director General Neliswe
Magubane on August 22 to discuss the path forward on
bilateral cooperation in the area of nuclear energy.
Ambassador Frazer framed U.S.-South African cooperation on
nuclear energy in the context of the broader bilateral
relationship, affirmed by the June Statement from Presidents
Bush and Mbeki. Hendricks indicated that South Africa was
ready to move forward on a series of collaborative endeavors,
and assured Ambassador Frazer that positive answers to the
letters of Secretary Rice and Secretary Bodman were
forthcoming. She agreed that South Africa's collaboration on
nuclear energy is part of broader bilateral relations with
the United States. Noting the constructive meeting between
President George W. Bush and President Thabo Mbeki on June
10, Hendricks commented, "From my side, South Africa has good
relations with the United States, and I don't see why it
should change. You have my commitment and assurance that
this won't change."

JSCNEC


--------------------------





3. (SBU) Hendricks told Ambassador Frazer that both sides
only needed to "do what needs to be done to establish" a
Joint Standing Committee on Nuclear Energy Cooperation
(JSCNEC). She noted that her officials had already created a
list of potential areas for cooperation. When asked how we
should move forward, Hendricks replied that "I suppose we
have the highest levels voice their commitment in the
presence of our officials, then leave it to our officials" to
follow through. With a chuckle, she reassured Ambassador
Frazer that the creation of a JSCNEC "should not give you
sleepless nights."



4. (C) Ambassador Frazer noted that Secretary Rice may be
visiting South Africa in the near future, and that this could
present an excellent opportunity to launch the Joint Standing
Committee, since the State Department led for the United
States and the Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) led
for South Africa. There ensued some discussion as to what
would be the best way for both sides to publicly express
their commitment to closer relations in this area, with
agreement that we needed to chart the way ahead in an
exchange of letters.

Research and Development Agreements


--------------------------





5. (SBU) Hendricks said that South Africa viewed the research
and development agreements with the United States, one on
nuclear energy and the other on nuclear materials safeguards
technologies, as "part of a bigger package" regarding nuclear
bilateral cooperation on which South Africa was almost ready
to move forward. She said that DME had consulted with ESKOM,
the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA), and
PBMR, Ltd. While there had been some contentious issues
surrounding the annex on intellectual property rights,
somehow DME would work around them. Both sides agreed to
explore venues for a signing ceremony.



6. (SBU) In a related exchange, DME Chief Director for
Nuclear Policy Tseliso Maqubela assured Econoff that all
interagency hurdles had been overcome on the research and
development agreements, including those on intellectual
property rights. However, the agreements still needed to be
approved by the Minister and might need to go to Cabinet for
general approval. In a separate exchange, Chief Director for
Nuclear Policy Tseliso Maqubela told Econoff -- which
Hendricks confirmed to the Ambassador -- that Minister
Hendricks would not be attending the IAEA General Conference
in Vienna September 26-30 because South Africa would be
hosting the 18th World Petroleum Congress in Johannesburg
September 26-29. In her place, Deputy Minister Lula Xingwana
would attend only IAEA's opening ceremony. For this reason,
a signing ceremony on the margins of the General Conference
with Secretary Bodman, as had been suggested by the
Department of Energy, did not seem viable. Maqubela further
explained that South Africa viewed the R&D agreements as a
significant step forward in bilateral relations, and
therefore preferred a venue affording more attention than "a
five-minute signing on the margins of a multilateral event."
Maqubela said that they were looking at organizing an event
either in Washington or Pretoria "but not inbetween." In her
general discussion with Ambassador Frazer about developing
the bilateral relationship with the United States, Hendricks
seemed to echo this sentiment.

Safari Reactor Conversion


--------------------------





7. (SBU) Minister Hendricks mentioned that her announcement
to convert the SAFARI Research Reactor to non weapons grade
fuel was one of few memos that she has submitted to her
Cabinet so far. In reference to Secretary Bodman's July 22
letter of congratulations and Former Senator Sam Nunn's very
supportive statement on behalf of the Nuclear Threat
Initiative, she chuckled, "I guess the United States is very
happy with that." In response to the Ambassador's question
about South Africa taking further steps to remove U.S.-origin
HEU fuel assemblies, Hendricks seemed at first unaware of the
program, but once Deputy Director General Magubane mentioned
the "Spent Fuels Take Back Program," Hendricks confirmed that
there seemed to be "no problems with moving ahead on that."
She later confessed to still reading into her new portfolio.

State of Relations


--------------------------





8. (C) Overall, the meeting was very constructive, reflecting
that both sides were very close to entering a new chapter of
bilateral cooperation in this very important area. The fact
that the South Africans view closer bilateral relations with
the United States in nuclear energy as part of a bilateral
program rather than a set of piecemeal activities is
encouraging.
FRAZER