Veil of secrecy covers Russia nuclear deal

Pretoria - Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson was alone when she signed a mysterious multi-billion rand nuclear deal with Russia, Fin24's sister publication Beeld reported on Wednesday.

The rest of the South African delegation to the annual general meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria, where the agreement was signed, was apparently told to go and wait somewhere else, because the meeting with the Russians was "private".

The government has been refusing over the past two weeks to reveal details of the agreement.

The Russian nuclear energy corporation Rosatom originally announced that a transaction to build eight nuclear reactors at a cost of R559bn in South Africa was agreed on in Vienna.

The transaction was signed by Joemat-Pettersson on behalf of South Africa and Sergei Kirienko, director general of Rosatom.

The government has since backtracked to convince the world that the agreement with Russia is not binding and that a transparent tender process will be followed.

READ: Barnard: Nuclear deal only window shopping

Similar agreements will apparently be signed with France, China and Japan.

On Tuesday Joemat-Pettersson did not want to comment on a query by Beeld regarding the issue. She referred Beeld to Dr Wolsey Barnard, acting director general of energy.

According to Barnard he was not present when the agreement was signed in Vienna, but he does not think it is strange for ministers to meet behind closed doors on such occasions.

Beeld was informed by a reliable source that officials of the delegation dealing with all aspects of the IAEA's operations and who have to comply with all SA's responsibilities to the agency, were stunned when they found out afterwards what had actually happened during the Russian meeting.

Even staff at the SA embassy in Vienna had been warned by "a higher authority" that they must not mention anything to the media about matters relating to the meeting.

They were even threatened that a delegate of the department of state security will be called in to trace any whistle blowers.

According to Barnard it is standard practice for ministers to have private meetings at important occasions.

Barnard said more information will be revealed once all the various countries have signed.

ALSO READ:
Power prices could double over nuclear deal
SA denies corruption in Russia nuclear deal
* For more on this story and more business news in Afrikaans, visit Netwerk24.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
17.47
-2.2%
Rand - Pound
21.05
-0.0%
Rand - Euro
18.91
-0.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
12.09
-0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.0%
Platinum
974.02
0.0%
Palladium
1,623.95
0.0%
Gold
1,865.16
0.0%
Silver
22.35
0.0%
Brent Crude
79.94
-2.8%
Top 40
74,082
+0.6%
All Share
80,241
+0.6%
Resource 10
75,186
+0.7%
Industrial 25
103,461
+0.8%
Financial 15
16,550
0.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE
Government tenders

Find public sector tender opportunities in South Africa here.

Government tenders
This portal provides access to information on all tenders made by all public sector organisations in all spheres of government.
Browse tenders