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French President Macron Reiterates Support for IAEA Mission to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant


President Emmanuel Macron and IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi met in Paris to discuss the IAEA's mission to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant. (Photo: IAEA)

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi met with President Emmanuel Macron yesterday in Paris, in an important step to the IAEA’s imminent mission to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant. President Macron, who reiterated his support of the IAEA’s activities, has played key role in facilitating the mission. That mission would assess the physical damage to the facilities, determine whether the main and backup safety and security systems are functional and evaluate the staff’s working conditions, in addition to performing urgent safeguards activities on the site. The plant, Europe’s largest, has been occupied by Russian forces since early March but is operated by Ukrainian staff. Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to an IAEA mission in talks with President Macron, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy agreed the parameters with the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In his address to the UN Security Council earlier this month, Mr Grossi called for cooperation from both sides of the conflict to allow for a mission to the Zaporizhzhya plant. The IAEA has not been able to visit Zaporizhzhya in south-eastern Ukraine since before the conflict began more than six months ago. Ukraine informed the Agency this week that renewed shelling caused additional damage in the area of Zaporizhzhya. Mr Grossi expressed the urgent need to send an IAEA mission to help stabilize the nuclear safety and security situation.

“The serious nuclear safety and security risks facing the facility, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, underlines the need for an IAEA expert mission to go there,” Mr Grossi said. “I am gravely concerned about the extremely stressful and challenging working conditions under which Ukrainian management and staff are operating the plant.”

France is among 12 countries of the IAEA’s Response and Assistance Network (RANET) that has provided specialized equipment to Ukraine in response to a request for needed equipment for the safe and secure operation of its nuclear facilities. In July, Ukraine received a large batch of radiation protection and monitoring equipment provided by France and Australia and delivered by the IAEA.

Nuclear non-proliferation

Mr Grossi also met with French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna on Thursday to discuss continuing efforts to ensure that nuclear material is not diverted from peaceful purposes. “Our efforts are critical to address the challenges facing nuclear non-proliferation,” Mr Grossi said.

At the most recent IAEA Board of Governors meeting in June, Mr Grossi stated that the IAEA cannot confirm the correctness and completeness of Iran’s declaration under its Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement. France has been supportive of the IAEA’s work in monitoring and verifying Iran’s nuclear programme and of its efforts to maintain a continuity of knowledge with respect to the Tehran’s nuclear activities.

Earlier this month, at the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), Mr Grossi called on leaders to “come together and recommit to the noble principles enshrined in the NPT: nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and to promote cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy.”

Nuclear energy and peaceful applications

France has been a member of the IAEA since 1957 and operates 56 nuclear power reactors, which make up over 70 per cent of the country’s electricity generation. “France is already a world leader in low carbon energy generation, and nuclear energy has a major role to play in that,” Mr Grossi said.

The country is an active participant and contributor to the IAEA’s technical cooperation programme. “France is an important partner, and the country’s support to the programmes and initiatives goes a long way in helping our Member States get access to nuclear technology and expertise in many areas, including food and agriculture and cancer care,” Mr Grossi said.

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