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Concerns raised over SA/Russia nuclear energy deal

Calls are being made for the multibillion rand agreement to be discussed in Parliament.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hugs South Africa President Jacob Zuma. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The Democratic Alliance (DA) says it is concerned with a multibillion rand nuclear energy agreement between South Africa and Russia.

The opposition now wants the agreement to be scrutinised in Parliament.

Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson signed the deal, giving Russia exclusive rights for the construction of nuclear power plants in the country.

DA Members of Parliament Lance Greyling says, "We are extremely concerned because we believe that if South Africa is to go ahead with this nuclear build programme, then at the very least we need to have a completely transparent public procurement process where all countries are invited to submit competitive bids."

The energy agreement was signed on Monday, but experts say if it's not a transparent process it will be another arms deal.

The R111 billion deal paves the way for the building of up to 9.6 Gigawatts of nuclear power by 2030.

The agreement will see Russia's atomic energy agency providing up to eight nuclear reactors to South Africa.

The Energy Minister says the deal provides a solid platform for future collaboration between the two countries.

Joemat-Petterson and the Director-General of Russia's State Atomic energy corporation signed the agreement on the sidelines of a conference in Vienna.

Russia will also help in the development of South African nuclear infrastructure and will assist in educating local specialists.

Aside from the provision of eight nuclear reactors, the deal allows for the construction of a Russian technology-based multipurpose research reactor.

South Africa's ambitious "integrated resource plan" envisions 9,600 megawatts of nuclear energy being added to the national grid to help reduce reliance on coal.

The deal is also expected to create thousands of jobs.