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IAEA Director General's Introductory Statement to the Board of Governors

Vienna, Austria

Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi delivering his opening statement to the IAEA Board of Governors. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

(As prepared for delivery)

On Sunday, direct attacks against Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant marked a major escalation of the nuclear safety and security dangers in Ukraine, significantly increasing the risk of a nuclear accident.

We are meeting today, and I will meet with the UN Security Council next week, because it is of paramount importance to ensure these reckless attacks do not mark the beginning of a new and gravely dangerous front of the war.

I firmly appeal to military decision makers to abstain from any action violating the IAEA’s 5 concrete principles to prevent a nuclear accident and ensure the integrity of the plant and I urge the international community actively to work towards a de-escalation of what is a very serious situation.

On Sunday, the International Support and Assistance Mission to ZNPP (ISAMZ) confirmed the first attacks since November 2022 to directly target Zaporizhzhya NPP, which, as you are aware, is Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. One of these attacks resulted in a direct hit on the reactor dome of Unit 6. Whilst the damage to the structure has not compromised nuclear safety, it is a serious incident, with strikes on the ZNPP’s primary containment representing a step-change increase in risk to nuclear safety. The other two attacks were in close proximity to the main reactor buildings and resulted in at least one casualty. A further drone attack and bursts of rifle fire were reported on Tuesday, an ominous indication of an apparent readiness to continue these attacks, despite the grave dangers they pose to nuclear safety and security. Strikes must cease.

At the Board of Governors meeting just one month ago, I warned of the precarious situation at ZNPP. But then I was able to report to you that ISAMZ had not found any indications the five concrete principles were not being observed. The most recent attacks, however, are a clear violation of the principles and have shifted us into an acutely consequential juncture in this war.

As I have repeatedly stated – including at the Security Council and the IAEA Board of Governors – no one can conceivably benefit or gain any military or political advantage from attacks against nuclear facilities. Attacking a nuclear power plant is an absolute no go. Attacking Zaporizhzhya NPP means endangering nuclear safety. Among those who could be affected most directly are the people who work at the plant and the experts of the IAEA, impartial international civil servants working on behalf of the Agency’s 178 Member States.

Sunday’s attack fortunately did not compromise nuclear safety in a serious way, but it would be irresponsible for us to assume future attacks will not. Rolling the dice is not the way to do it in nuclear safety.

Let me reiterate the 5 concrete principles established at the UN Security Council on 30 May 2023.

  1. There should be no attack of any kind from or against the plant, in particular targeting the reactors, spent fuel storage, other critical infrastructure, or personnel;
  2. ZNPP should not be used as storage or a base for heavy weapons (i.e., multiple rocket launchers, artillery systems and munitions, and tanks) or military personnel that could be used for an attack from the plant;
  3. Off-site power to the plant should not be put at risk. To that effect, all efforts should be made to ensure that off-site power remains available and secure at all times;
  4. All structures, systems and components essential to the safe and secure operation of ZNPP should be protected from attacks or acts of sabotage;
  5. No action should be taken that undermines these principles.

I call on maximum restraint and clear observance by all, of these fundamental, straight forward, indispensable principles.

I ask the Board unanimously to support the role of the IAEA in monitoring them, for the benefit of all.

We all must use every lever available to us to ensure there are no future attacks on ZNPP.

That is what I am doing today and that is what I will do when I travel to the UN Security Council next week. That is what I have done in crossing the front lines to Zaporizhzhya NPP and in meeting the leaders of the States engaged in the war in Ukraine. That is what IAEA staff stationed at Zaporizhzhya NPP right now are doing.

I urge you to make this your highest priority and to support me and the IAEA in doing everything in your power to stop this devastating war becoming unconscionably more dangerous through further attacks on Zaporizhzhya NPP or any other nuclear power plant. 

Watch IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi's remarks as delivered.

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