Military actions with even the smallest potential to jeopardize nuclear safety or security must stop immediately, said IAEA’s chief. “These actions could lead us to serious consequences,” he added.
Briefing the Security Council today (11 Aug) on the situation in Ukraine, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Mariano Grossi said that the nuclear safety and security situation at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) has been deteriorating rapidly, “to the point of becoming very alarming.”
Today’s Security Council meeting took place a few days after shelling at the ZNPP sparked widespread alarm about the potential risk of a severe nuclear accident at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which has six reactors.
Based on the most recent information, Grossi noted, IAEA experts have preliminarily assessed that there is no immediate threat to nuclear safety as a result of the shelling or other military actions.
However, “this could change at any moment,” he stressed.
“Any nuclear catastrophe would be unacceptable, and therefore preventing it should be our overarching goal,” Grossi said.
Grossi also briefed on his efforts to agree and lead an IAEA expert mission to the site as soon as possible.
Director General Grossi reiterated that the mission would require the cooperation, understanding, and facilitation of both Ukraine and Russia, as well as the continued support of the United Nations and Secretary-General António Guterres.
Also briefing at the Security Council, Vasily Nebenzya, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, said that at the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Kyiv’s representatives “are making cynical and absurd accusations, saying that Russia is attacking Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plants.”
He added, “These propaganda attacks are being seized upon by the Western press.”
“Russia continues to deploy disinformation to distract from the realities on the ground and now claims that Ukraine is culpable for the situation at the Zaporizhzhia facility,” said Bonnie D. Jenkins, US’s Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.
“This completely ignores the real issue, which is Russia’s illegal presence at the facility,” she added.
According to Sergiy Kyslytsya, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, the only way to “ultimately remove the nuclear threats stemming from the illegal Russian presence at the nuclear power plant is the withdrawal of the Russian troops and the return of the station to the legitimate control for Ukraine.”
He added, “ensuring the safety and security of nuclear facility cannot be seen as a goodwill gesture. This is the duty of an occupying power in accordance with international humanitarian law.”