Atomic Energy Board to Atomic Energy Corporation
The origins of the South African nuclear industry dates back to the mid-1940s. In 1948, the Atomic Energy Act established the Atomic Energy Board (AEB) with the immediate objective of regulating the uranium industry in South Africa. The AEB later became the Atomic Energy Corporation (AEC). South Africa became a member state of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1957.
In 1959, the South African government approved the creation of a domestic nuclear industry and planning began the next year on building a research reactor, in cooperation with the US Atoms for Peace programme. This led to the establishment of the Pelindaba site near Pretoria in 1961. In 1963, the Nuclear Installations Act provided for licensing and in 1970, South Africa embarked on an extensive nuclear fuel cycle programme, as well as the development of a nuclear weapons capability.
Atomic Energy Corporation to Council for Nuclear Safety
In 1982 the Nuclear Energy Act made the Atomic Energy Corporation (AEC) responsible for all nuclear matters including enrichment.The Council for Nuclear Safety (CNS) was established in 1982 as an independent body with consultative functions in the process of the issue of nuclear licenses by the AEC. A major milestone in the development of regulatory control of the nuclear industry in South Africa was reached in 1988 with the emergence of the Council for Nuclear Safety as a fully independent regulatory body responsible for regulating the safe use and handling of nuclear materials to protect human health, safety and environment against nuclear damage.
In 1991, South Africa signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and in 1993 voluntarily announced the dismantling of its nuclear weapons programme. In 1995, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) declared that it was satisfied that all materials were accounted for and the weapons programme had been satisfactorily terminated and dismantled. In 1996, South Africa signed the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty – also called the Pelindaba Treaty.
Council for Nuclear Safety to National Nuclear Regulator
The Nuclear Energy Act of 1999 gives responsibility to the Minister of Minerals & Energy for nuclear power generation, management of radioactive wastes and the country’s international commitments. The National Nuclear Regulator Act of 1999 set up the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) which superseded the erstwhile CNS. The NNR came into force in February 2000 and its role is largely the same as the CNS.