The IAEA’s presence at the Zaporizhzya Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine would allow the organization to carry out important technical activities in nuclear safety, security and safeguards and at the same time provide a stabilizing influence, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi told the UN Security Council today.
In a session to discuss the situation at the plant, which has been occupied by Russia since March, Mr Grossi reiterated his call for all military action to stop at the site, which came under shelling on 5 and 6 August.
“Based on the most recent information provided by Ukraine, IAEA experts have preliminarily assessed that there is no immediate threat to nuclear safety as a result of the shelling or other recent military actions. However, this could change at any moment,” he told Security Council via video link.
“I ask that both sides of this armed conflict cooperate with the IAEA and allow for a mission to the Zaporizhzya Nuclear Power Plant as soon as possible. Time is of the essence.”
The IAEA has received contradictory information from Ukraine and Russia about the status of the facility, its operation and the damage it sustained, and without a physical presence on site, IAEA experts are unable to corroborate these assessments. “It is those facts, gathered during a site visit, that are needed for the IAEA to be able to develop and provide an independent risk assessment of the nuclear safety and security risks,” he said.
At such a mission, which Mr Grossi would lead, IAEA experts would assess the physical damage to the facilities, determine whether the main and backup safety and security systems are functional, and evaluate the working conditions of the control room staff. At the same time, the IAEA would also undertake urgent safeguards activities to verify that nuclear material is used only for peaceful purposes. Experts needs to verify the status of the reactors and inventories of nuclear material to ensure non-diversion from peaceful use. The IAEA would also perform maintenance of safeguards equipment in order to ensure remote transmission of data and maintaining continuity of knowledge after leaving the facility.
“Not only would a mission to Zaporizhzya be beneficial to the independent work of the IAEA, but I believe it would also be beneficial to the operators and regulators of the nuclear plant,” Mr Grossi said.