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French President Macron and IAEA Director General Grossi Discuss Ukraine, Non-Proliferation, Increased Momentum for Nuclear Power


IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi met President Emmanuel Macron on Monday, 27 November, 2023, as part of his three-day visit to France this week. (Photo: IAEA)

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi met President Emmanuel Macron on Monday as part of his three-day visit to France this week. President Macron expressed his support of the IAEA’s activities in Ukraine, where the Agency maintains a continued presence at all five nuclear power plants.

The situation at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant remains challenging, Director General Grossi said.  He thanked the President for France’s sustained support of the IAEA’s Ukraine-related activities through extrabudgetary contributions. “Assistance such as recent French support in delivering equipment and spare parts to the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant is essential as Ukrainian facilities continue to face a fragile safety and security situation,” the Director General said.

The two leaders also discussed global non-proliferation issues, including the situation regarding Iran.

President Macron and Director General Grossi agreed for the need to highlight nuclear power’s potential to mitigate climate change at the upcoming COP28 international climate conference where the IAEA, France and Belgium will also announce the first-ever nuclear energy summit to be held in Brussels next year.

In a world where the full potential of nuclear power as part of a low carbon energy mix is still not fully recognized, France plays a unique global role in advancing this technology, Mr Grossi said. France’s 56 nuclear power plants account for more than 60 per cent of the total French electricity generation – the largest share worldwide. The figure is expected to rise as the country builds an additional reactor, plans to construct at least six more and considers the future deployment of small modular reactors.  

Discussing the Future of Nuclear Power

Today Mr Grossi spoke at the High-level opening of the World Nuclear Exhibition (WNE), a key global event in the civil nuclear sector, facilitating international collaboration, showcasing innovative technologies, and providing a comprehensive platform for discussions on the future of nuclear energy. At the event, the Director General participated in an international panel discussion on the deployment of new nuclear capabilities.

The Director General will also explore France's strategies to achieve net zero when he meets with French Minister for Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher at the WNE’s side-lines. They will discuss the increased global interest in nuclear power and next steps in fostering this technology on the way to integrated low carbon energy systems. The Director General will also meet representatives from a wide range of government, regulatory, and industry organizations.

Sustainable Solutions for Waste Management

Later in the week, the Director General will visit the Meuse/Haute-Marne centre of the French national radioactive waste management agency (ANDRA), where preparations are underway for the future construction of Cigéo, France’s planned deep geological repository for high-level and intermediate nuclear radiological waste that is set to operate for about 120 years. “The sustainable and responsive management of spent fuel and radioactive waste is essential for the acceptance of nuclear power as an energy source,” Mr Grossi said. “France’s leadership in this area can play an essential role in advancing the deployment of nuclear power globally.”

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