Persian Gulf states eye SA nuclear know-how

Persian Gulf countries may enlist South African expertise in their plans to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, Kuwait’s Foreign Minister said on Tuesday.

Mohamed Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah was speaking after talks in Cape Town with his South African counterpart, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

He said one of the issues they discussed was the opportunities offered by South African research into environmentally friendly nuclear technology, and the possibility of cooperation.

He said the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which counts six Gulf states as members, has decided to embark on a nuclear programme aimed at power generation and water desalination.

None of the six — the others are Saudi Arabia, Bahrein, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar — has nuclear capability, he said.

The GCC decision was taken in December 2006, with a declaration that its members ”have a right to possess nuclear energy technology for peaceful purposes”.

South Africa, which has one French-built nuclear power station, is developing mini-reactor technology in the form of a so-called pebble-bed modular reactor.

The Kuwaiti foreign minister said his country has a keen interest in strengthening cooperation with South Africa, adding that he had discussed with Dlamini-Zuma the need for a summit between the GCC and South Africa.

Dlamini-Zuma told reporters that another issue they talked about was a planned visit to Kuwait later this year by President Thabo Mbeki.

She said Kuwait is an important trading and investment partner. Kuwaitis have made significant investments in real estate and golf courses in this country, and the South African economy offers other opportunities as well.

”Kuwait is not just speculating on our stock exchange,” she said. ”They are putting money into long-term investments and that is very important.” — Sapa

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