Peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology came under the spotlight at the recent 2018 IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Science and Technology, which was held in Vienna, Austria, from 28 November to 30 November.

Speaking at the conference, South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Energy Thembisile Majola highlighted the country’s long-term commitment and investments aimed at developing the nuclear sector for peaceful purposes. In particular, Ms Majola singled out the SAFARI-1 research reactor and the National Research Foundation’s iThemba LABS as the “lodestars” of the country’s nuclear research and development programmes, which have provided “cross-disciplinary materials research in a wide variety of fields such as construction, manufacturing, transport, medicine, electronics and energy.” She also praised the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria as being the African continent’s the foremost nuclear medicine institute, playing a key role in the diagnosis, management and treatment of cancers.

Ms Majola was one over 60 ministers and other high-level government officials attending the three-day event, which was aimed at facilitating “high-level dialogue among participants on nuclear science, technology and applications for peaceful uses” between IAEA member states. The conference also highlighted ways in which nuclear technology and research could contribute to future sustainable development, beginning with the adoption of a declaration that highlighted the contribution that nuclear could make to socio-economic and human development needs, and which emphasised valuable applications of nuclear science and technology outside of energy use.