Monday, August 3, 2009

Response (Right of Reply) to Sunday Standard, issued on behalf of the Office of the Minister for Defence, Justice and Security

source: Republic of Botswana (1/8/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 19 of 2009
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
"Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"

D2) 31/7/09: Response (Right of Reply) to Sunday Standard, issued on behalf of the Office of the Minister for Defence, Justice and Security: "BDF never said facility vulnerable to SA missile attack"

The Botswana Defence Force has noted with dismay misleading content in a front-page lead article entitled "Planned radioactive facility a national security threat - BDF", which appears in the 26/7/09 edition of the local Sunday Standard newspaper.

In addition to the headline itself, we are especially concerned about the article's opening paragraph, which states:

"The planned National Radioactive Waste Storage facility in Pilikwe village is a threat to Botswana's national security, and vulnerable to missile attacks from South Africa - the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) warned."

For the record, the BDF has never described the proposed Radioactive Waste Storage Facility as a "national security threat". It would thus appear to us that said language is but a product of the newspaper's own excitable imagination.

Neither have we ever stated that the facility was vulnerable to missile attacks from South Africa. Further to this we have had the opportunity to examine the actual content of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report for the proposed facility, the public document that Sunday Standard reporter cites as the source of his alleged revelations.

The sole reference to "missile" appears on p. 70 of the document, where we are merely cited as having raised the question as to whether a proposed concrete wall for the facility would be able to withstand a direct hit by a missile.

There is no mentioning here of South Africa or indeed anyone else.

While it is true that in the report we did question the site's location close to the South African border, it should be noted that this was based on our general concern about having such a facility located near an international boundary, and not specifically aimed at South Africa.

Finally, we would observe that the BDF was but one of many stakeholders who were consulted during the drafting of the EIA report, whose public findings will now be presumably factored into final outcomes for the project.

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