South Africa selling nuclear secrets to Russia?

DA shadow minister of energy Gordon Mackay said the Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson has been caught withholding critical information regarding South Africa’s proposed nuclear build programme.

Mackay said they were troubled to find the following reference in the National Treasury’s 2014/15 annual report:

Compiled memorandum on Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) training and research educational assets as well as the transaction with Rosatom State Energy Corporation (Rosatom).

The DA said the statement is vaguely worded and buried deep within the annual report.

“On face value it appears government is selling intellectually property to the Russian state-owned energy corporation,” said the DA.

“This proposed transaction has not been brought to Parliament’s attention, despite more than R9.2 billion of taxpayers’ money being spent to develop PBMR technology between 1993 and 2010.

The DA said the proposed PBMR transaction was not formally incorporated in the Russian Nuclear Framework Agreement signed between Russia and South Africa in 2014, and which came before the Portfolio Committee on Energy on August 2015.

The DA said the omission of the PBMR transaction raises questions as to what else the Minister is withholding from Parliament and the public.

The DA said it will write to the Minister of Energy requesting clarification of the statement, as well as answers to the following questions:

  • What is the nature and extent of the transaction with Rosatom? (What is being sold? Is SA selling the hardware or its intellectual property as well?)
  • What is the total value of the transaction? (Does this constitute fair value to the South African taxpayer?)
  • What tender process, if any, has been undertaken?
  • Does this transaction comply with South Africa’s commitments under the Non-proliferation Treaty?
  • It is imperative that information regarding this deal be made publicly available immediately.

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South Africa selling nuclear secrets to Russia?