Since the termination of its nuclear weapons programme, commenced in 1989 and verified by
the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) in 1993, successive South African
governments have consistently advocated the country’s commit-ment to nuclear nonproliferation.
South Africa has secured a niche role through norm construction and state
identity for itself through its nuclear diplomacy with the IAEA. The article explores aspects of
South Africa’s nuclear diplomacy with the IAEA as an example of niche diplomacy.
Therefore, it traces South Africa’s diplomatic relations with the IAEA, starting with the
IAEA’s verification process and the implementation of a Safeguards Agreement (1989 1994)
through the conversion of South Africa’s research nuclear reactor (1991 2005); South Africa’s
position on greater representation for developing countries on the IAEA’s Board of
Governors; its ambition to be elected to the position of IAEA Director General (2008 2009);
and its refusal to support the establishment of a nuclear fuel bank in Russia under the IAEA’s
auspices (2009 2010).