Nuclear deal: SA will get answers

Johannesburg - Details on the nuclear deal with Russia will not remain a secret, the energy department has announced in a statement.

Acting director general of the energy department Wolsey Barnard said in a statement on Saturday that "nothing will be withheld" from South Africans and all interested parties with respect to this agreement.

He said this was not the first of such agreements to be signed by the department to enhance "co-operation in different areas of mutual interest".

"South Africa has signed over 60 different energy related co-operation agreements, addressing different aspects of energy and usage of different energy sources," said Barnard.

"The [agreement] is focusing on Russian-technology multipurpose nuclear research, assistance in the development of South-African nuclear infrastructure, education of South African nuclear specialists in Russian universities and other areas."

He said the co-operation agreement and other agreements the department intended on signing were informed by cabinet-approved plans.

The department appealed for the necessary legal process to be allowed to run its course in relation to the agreement.

It also denied a report that President Jacob Zuma interfered with the nuclear deal with Russia and instructed Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson to sign the deal.

Barnard said the inter-governmental agreement between Russia and South Africa was signed on September 22, by Joemat-Pettersson at the the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conference.

"The department wish to refute all allegations of 'undue influence' by the president towards concluding this agreement," the acting director general of the energy department Wolsey Barnard said in a statement.

"The allegations are baseless and at worst ludicrous, and they are purely concocted in order to tarnish the image and integrity of the president and the government of South Africa."

On Friday, the Mail&Guardian reported that Zuma took control of a R1 trillion nuclear deal, negotiated directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and instructed Joemat-Pettersson to sign it.

Unnamed sources told the M&G that Zuma instructed Joemat-Pettersson to sign the deal on the sidelines of the IAEA conference in Vienna.

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