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IAEA Urges Military Restraint to Safeguard Ukraine's Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Plant Amid Rising Risks

EDITOR IN CHIEF By EDITOR IN CHIEF | April 13, 2024 | Austria


In a significant move reflecting growing concerns, Rafael Mariano Grossi, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has fervently appealed for maximum military restraint around Ukraine's Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP). This call comes in the wake of recent drone strikes that have markedly heightened the risk of a nuclear accident at Europe's largest nuclear facility.

During a crucial meeting with the IAEA's Board of Governors, convened urgently following the drone attacks, Grossi emphasized the critical nature of the situation. The attacks on ZNPP not only threatened the plant's safety but also posed a potential start to a dangerously new phase of the ongoing conflict in the region. Grossi highlighted the importance of adhering to the five concrete principles set by the IAEA to safeguard nuclear facilities, which he had previously outlined at the United Nations Security Council.

The emergency session, prompted by separate requests from the Russian Federation and Ukraine, saw Grossi urging both nations and the global community to work towards de-escalation. He stressed the absence of any conceivable benefit from targeting nuclear facilities, pointing out the sheer recklessness of compromising global nuclear safety.

The ZNPP, which had been directly targeted in military actions for the first time since November 2022, is situated on the frontline of the armed conflict. Despite the severity of the recent strikes, which marked a significant escalation, no immediate damage threatening nuclear safety or security was reported. However, the ongoing military operations and the recent drone strikes have pushed the situation to a critically consequential juncture.

IAEA experts stationed at the ZNPP have been actively monitoring the situation, reporting frequent military activities around the plant. Despite several challenges, including restricted access to certain facility areas, their continuous presence is vital. They are committed to providing independent and timely updates to the world, highlighting the need for their unfettered access to all critical areas of the plant.

As a proactive measure to ensure safety, the ZNPP is also transitioning one of its reactor units to a cold shutdown state. This strategy is intended to enhance safety margins and reduce dependence on external power sources and cooling systems.

As the IAEA continues to monitor the situation closely, Grossi is set to address the United Nations Security Council to discuss further these developments and the implications for international nuclear safety.

The unfolding events at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant serve as a stark reminder of the high stakes involved in military conflicts near nuclear facilities. The international community's response, guided by the IAEA's efforts, will be crucial in preventing any escalation that could lead to a catastrophic nuclear incident.

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