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Update 221 – IAEA Director General Statement on Situation in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was informed about a further drone attack on Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) today, in the latest indication of a major worsening of the nuclear safety and security situation at the site, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said.

The IAEA team of experts stationed at the plant – who verified the impact of several such attacks on Sunday – reported hearing bursts of rifle fire followed by a loud explosion at 11:05am local time today, the same time that the ZNPP later said an incoming drone had detonated on the roof of the facility’s training centre.

The incident added to deepening concern about the already highly precarious nuclear safety and security situation at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which has been shelled several times since the conflict started in February 2022 and lost all off-site power eight times.

The training centre is located just outside the site perimeter, around half a kilometre from reactor unit 1, and the incident did not pose any threat to nuclear safety and security at the ZNPP, whose six reactors have all been shut down for the past 20 months. However, there are ZNPP staff routinely present in the training centre. The IAEA team requested immediate access to the building to assess the possible impact but was informed that the military security situation did not allow it. The team will continue to seek such access, as they did and received on Sunday.

“Today’s reported incident – although outside the site perimeter – is an ominous development as it indicates an apparent readiness to continue these attacks, despite the grave dangers they pose to nuclear safety and security and our repeated calls for military restraint. Whoever is behind them, they are playing with fire. Attacking a nuclear power plant is extremely irresponsible and dangerous, and it must stop,” Director General Grossi said.

Sunday’s drone strikes signalled a serious new threat to plant safety as it was the first time since November 2022 that the ZNPP was directly targeted in military action. It also represented the first clear violation of the five concrete principles for protecting the facility established by Director General Grossi at the United Nations Security Council in May last year.

In addition to the incidents on Sunday and today – which were backed up by the observations of the IAEA team – the Agency experts were also informed by the ZNPP about other similar events over the past few days. On Friday, the ZNPP said there had been a drone strike near the site’s oxygen and nitrogen production facility. On Sunday, the team heard explosions, in addition to those already reported, and were informed of two other alleged drone attacks outside the site perimeter, at the nearby port and at the training centre. Yesterday, the ZNPP said a drone had been shot down above the turbine hall building of reactor unit 6, without causing an explosion. In all cases, the IAEA team requested to visit these locations, but were denied access due to security reasons.

Reflecting the recent days’ severe turn for the worse at the site, Director General Grossi said he plans to brief the United Nations Security Council about the situation next week. It will be the seventh time he addresses the 15-nation body on the situation in Ukraine in just over two years.

“I remain determined to do everything in my power to prevent a major nuclear accident during this tragic war. At this moment of great danger, I will underline the seriousness of the situation in my address to the Security Council, whose support is of paramount importance for the IAEA’s persistent efforts to help prevent a major nuclear accident, with potential consequences for people and the environment in Ukraine and beyond,” he said.  

The IAEA experts have continued to hear the continuous sound of military activities near the plant over the past few days, including explosions, small arms fire as well as outgoing artillery fire from near the plant.


Last update: 07 May 2024

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