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Ramaphosa: Putin was relaxed about SA's position on nuclear deal

During talks with Vladimir Putin, Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa's economy is not operating optimally and, therefore, SA is not able to continue with the nuclear programme.

President Cyril Ramaphosa with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the BRICS Summit. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa says his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin was relaxed about South Africa's position on the nuclear deal.

Ramaphosa fielded questions from journalists on Friday afternoon after delivering the closing speech at the BRICS forum in Sandton.

During talks with Putin, the president said South Africa's economy is not operating optimally and, therefore, SA is not able to continue with the nuclear programme.

He says he and Putin have agreed to revisit the issue in the future.

“We gave them a clear, straightforward answer which we have articulated publicly, and we said our policy in terms of energy is to have a mixed energy.”

He also noted that South Africa has surplus energy at the moment, so the nuclear build project is off the table at least for now.

“The issue of nuclear also came up and they wanted to know where we are with regards to nuclear programme and we gave them a clear, straightforward answer.”

On Wednesday, When asked whether the Nuclear deal was discussed during bilateral talks, Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko confirmed it was brought up in the meeting between Ramaphosa and Putin on the sidelines of the BRICS summit.

“There was a discussion around how Russia can assist South Africa in terms of its nuclear capacity.”

Diko said Ramaphosa noted that South Africa’s difficult economic situation means the nuclear deal can’t go forward.

“Our economy is very stagnant, it’s not growing at the rate that we want it to. So while we remain committed to an energy mix, which includes nuclear, South Africa is not yet at a point where it's able to sign on the dotted line.”

Former President Jacob Zuma and Putin enjoyed close relations and it was under his watch that South Africa entered into a nuclear deal with Russia.

Diko would not comment on the relations between Ramaphosa and the Russian president, only saying relations between the two countries are solid.

Additional reporting by Qaanitah Hunter.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)

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