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Update 147 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria

Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi appealed today for constructive efforts by all involved parties to facilitate this month’s already delayed rotation of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts to and from Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), where they are carrying out activities to help ensure nuclear safety and security during the current military conflict.

Director General Grossi stressed the vital importance of the continued presence of the IAEA Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhya (ISAMZ) at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant (NPP), which has gained worldwide recognition and support since it was established almost half a year ago.

However, a planned rotation of the three ISAMZ experts present at the ZNPP since early January has been delayed for more than two weeks now, with the replacement team already in Ukraine.  

“The nuclear safety and security situation in Ukraine – especially at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant – continues to be dangerous and unpredictable. ISAMZ has been playing a key role in helping to protect this major nuclear facility – with its six reactors – during the war. Their presence is contributing to the maintenance of nuclear safety and security, which is in everybody’s interest. The Agency is doing everything it can to conduct the safe rotation of our staff there as soon as possible. Their safety and security are my top priority,” Director General Grossi said.

The Director General said he was aware of recent statements and positions by both sides. “While these reflect their opposing views about the situation, it is important to approach this in a practical spirit bearing in mind the importance of the mission, for people in Ukraine and beyond,” he said.

Director General Grossi established ISAMZ on 1 September last year, and the current Agency team at the plant is the fifth so far. During rotation, the IAEA teams cross the frontline between Ukrainian- and Russian-controlled territory.

“Our staff at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, alongside those of the ZNPP, have won the respect and admiration of the wider international community. We can all be very grateful for the work they are doing in extremely difficult and challenging circumstances. We must all help ensure that they can continue to implement this crucial nuclear safety and security mission,” he said.

The precarious nuclear safety and security situation in Ukraine was made clear again at the weekend, with the sound of more artillery fire taking place close to the ZNPP on Sunday and missiles reportedly flying near the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant (SUNPP) on Saturday, Director General Grossi said.

The missile attacks across Ukraine on Saturday resulted in the reduction of power at all three operating NPPs. This was reported to the IAEA by Ukraine and confirmed by the IAEA teams on the sites. By Sunday, the power output levels of the NPPs had been restored.

In view of persistent nuclear safety and security risks, the Director General said he remains determined to agree and implement a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the ZNPP as soon as possible, even though the negotiations with Ukraine and the Russian Federation have made slower progress than he had hoped for.

“I will continue my diplomatic efforts until the zone is established. Virtually every day, we are reminded of the necessity of more protective measures for the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant,” he said.

Over the past weekend, a planned rotation of experts of the IAEA Support and Assistance Mission at Chornobyl (ISAMICH) was completed, while the teams at the SUNPP and the Khmelnitsky and Rivne NPPs are scheduled to rotate in the coming weeks.

The IAEA teams continue to review the nuclear safety and security situation at all sites against the IAEA Seven Indispensable Pillars for ensuring nuclear safety and security during an armed conflict and to support the identification of further assistance to the nuclear facilities.

The IAEA is continuing to organize and coordinate deliveries of equipment to help Ukraine ensure nuclear safety and security. The tenth such delivery of equipment has just taken place. With this delivery, Rivne NPP and Energoatom were supplied with hand held spectrometers procured by the Agency using an extrabudgetary contribution provided by the United Kingdom.

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