The International Atomic Energy Agency has called on Ukrainian and Russian authorities to establish and adhere to new, concrete principles to prevent a disaster at the site of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The pleas from Rafael Grossi, the head of the intergovernmental agency, follow months of work by IAEA nuclear experts at the plant.
Speaking on Tuesday to the UN Security Council, Grossi said the situation at the plant — despite the presence of UN nuclear experts — remains “extremely fragile and dangerous.” The plant, the largest of its kind in Europe, was occupied by Russian forces on March 5, 2022, and the Russian military uses it to store military hardware.
During his speech, Grossi laid out five principles he hopes Ukraine and Russia agree to. First, Grossi said the plant should not be the source or object of attack.
“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,” Grossi said.
Some parts of the plant have been targeted by Ukrainian and Russian drone strikes — though these have not yet caused a catastrophe.
The IAEA chief also stressed the importance of keeping military hardware away from the plant. Grossi said that no heavy weapons or military personnel should ever be present on the site — a principle clearly directed at Russian forces. Video footage has shown military hardware and vehicles being stored on the site of the plant, and in May this year, IAEA representatives confirmed that military equipment and explosives were being stored in the turbine compartment of power unit No. 4.
Grossi also said efforts should be made to ensure that the site always has access to power and that it remains functional and safe. He further recommended that additional steps be taken to protect critical structures and components from attack.
The last principle forwarded by Grossi is that no action should be taken that would undermine the previous four principles.
“Let me say something very clearly: These principles are to no one’s detriment and to everyone’s benefit. Avoiding a nuclear accident is possible. Abiding by the IAEA’s five principles is the way to start,” Grossi said.
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.