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South Africa signs nuclear cooperation agreement with France

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Weeks after signing a nuclear cooperation agreement with Russia, South Africa has signed a similar agreement with France on October 14. The agreement covers areas including skills development, localisation of nuclear technology as well as research and development in South Africa.1,2

French nuclear company Areva said it "is ready to support this development, notably through its Generation III+ EPR reactor technology."1

South Africa's two operating nuclear power plants at Koeberg, operating since the mid-1980s, were built by French company Framatome (now Areva).

The NeutronBytes blog notes: "However, it is unlikely Areva, which has worked hard to land business in South Africa, will see any contracts for new reactors there. The reason is the Russians have offered to finance their deal, and Areva, which just dodged a "junk" rating of its stock, has committed to significantly cut back on new capital expenditures, by over 600 million euros over the next four years, to retain "investment grade" status. For its part, South Africa does not have the money to finance eight new reactors on its own."3

After earlier reports that Russia and South Africa had struck a US$50 billion (€39b) deal for eight reactors, fanned by inaccurate and overblown comments by Rosatom and contradicted by South African officials, Rosatom has acknowledged that the bilateral agreement contains "nothing concrete" in terms of actually financing and building reactors.3

It is doubtful whether Rosatom can finance a large reactor program in South Africa given its other commitments. According to the World Nuclear Association, Russia has 14 reactors planned or under construction in export markets for which it is providing at least 80% of the finance: in Belarus, Hungary, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Turkey.

South African government officials said nuclear cooperation agreements with other countries − France, China, South Korea, the US and Japan − were likely to follow.2


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