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Update 152 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria

The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi, said his visit to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) this week had confirmed his assessment of the seriousness of the nuclear safety and security situation at Europe’s largest such facility at a time of increased military activity in the region.

In view of the persistent risks facing the ZNPP during the armed conflict in Ukraine, Director General Grossi said he remained determined to press ahead with his diplomatic efforts to protect the six-reactor plant and help prevent a nuclear accident that could have severe consequences on people and the environment in Ukraine and elsewhere.

He discussed the issue when he met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the city of Zaporizhzhya on Monday and indicated he may soon travel to Russia again for further talks.

The Director General said he had been working with both countries in recent months on proposals to ensure nuclear safety and security at the ZNPP. He said the plan to achieve this vital objective had evolved from an initial proposal to establish a zone around the plant to now focus more on what should be avoided to ensure its protection, rather than on territorial aspects.

“It is work in progress. It is very, very important that we agree on the fundamental principle that a nuclear plant should not be attacked under any circumstances, and it also shouldn’t be used to attack others,” he said. “A nuclear accident with radiological consequences will spare no one.”

It was the second time Director General Grossi crossed the frontline to travel to the ZNPP and the first since he established a permanent presence of IAEA experts at the site in southern Ukraine on 1 September last year.

Director General Grossi said Wednesday’s visit had allowed him to see for himself the damage the plant had sustained since the last time he was there, especially during shelling in November. The ZNPP has also experienced repeated power blackouts, forcing it to temporarily rely on emergency diesel generators for reactor cooling and other nuclear safety and security functions.

At the ZNPP, he discussed with management about the difficult situation for the reduced number of staff remaining at the plant and other matters.

“The visit was essential for me to make my own assessment of the gravity of the situation,” he said, also referring to clear signs of an increased military presence in the region. “It is obvious that military activity is increasing in this whole region. There is open talk of offensives and counter offensives. This area is facing perhaps a more dangerous phase in terms of the ongoing conflict.”

The Director General’s visit was also aimed at ensuring that the regular rotation of IAEA experts to and from the site was maintained and improved, following the very challenging circumstances faced by the experts during a rotation in February which was delayed by almost a month.

This time, he was accompanied by a new group of IAEA experts to stay at the facility for the next weeks. It is the seventh such team present at the site since the IAEA Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhya (ISAMZ) was established seven months ago. When he returned from the plant, the experts of the sixth ISAMZ team came with him after spending several weeks at the site monitoring the situation, providing technical advice and reporting to IAEA headquarters.

“We were able to rotate the teams. There is a new team there now which will continue its work. That was for me very, very important,” Director General Grossi said.


Last update: 30 Mar 2023

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