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SA, Russia nuclear deal ‘not final’

The Energy Dept says the nuclear build procurement process has not yet started.

The Energy Department says the nuclear build procurement process has not yet started. Picture: www.freeimages.com

CAPE TOWN - The Energy Department says it does not need to clarify its position with Russia because when an agreement was signed government emphasised that the nuclear deal was not final.

The department held a briefing in Pretoria on Wednesday to assure South Africans that the nuclear build procurement process hasn't yet started and several countries still have to sign inter-governmental agreements.

Last week Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson announced the signing of an agreement with Moscow in terms of which Russia's Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation would provide South Africa with eight nuclear reactors.

Acting director-general Wolsey Barnard says there is no final agreement with Russia in terms of procuring nuclear reactors, despite reports in that country to the contrary.

He says several agreements will be signed with a number of countries, including France, to determine what they can offer South Africa in terms of a nuclear power station.

Barnard says nuclear is the way to go to ensure energy security.

"We keep debating; we're going to sit here in darkness in a couple of years' time because we haven't made a decision."

The procurement process, costs and Eskom's involvement have not yet been clarified but are expected to run into billions or possibly trillions of rand.