At a meeting in New York, the UN Security Council discussed the situation around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the intensification of hostilities in the south of the country. Consideration of the issue was initiated by the Russian Federation.
During his speech, IAEA Director General Mariano Grossi stated that there was currently no threat to nuclear safety at the Zaporizhzhia NPP, but the situation could change at any moment. He called for IAEA representatives to be allowed to visit the plant.
“I am concerned about the situation at the ZNPP. Hostilities must be stopped because they can have consequences. Even without them, the workers are currently working under extremely stressful conditions… I ask both parties to cooperate with the IAEA and allow our commission to visit the plant,” Grossi said.
He also added that the visit of the IAEA technical mission for an objective assessment of the facility and nuclear safety should take place as soon as possible.
Sergiy Kyslytsya, the Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN, stated that since the beginning of Russia’s occupation of the Zaporizhzhia NPP, Ukraine underlined the importance of the full and consistent implementation by the Agency of its mandate and insisted on the need to send the agency’s mission to the site, but such a visit had not yet taken place due to the destructive Russian position.
“Despite their public declarations, the occupiers have resorted to manipulation and unjustified conditions on the mission’s visit as well as shelling of the ZNPP and Enerhodar, thus making the visit impossible so far,” said the representative of Ukraine.
He explained that convening the Security Council by “terrorist Russia” to consider the shelling of the Zaporizhzhia NPP meant that the Russian Federation “decided to go all-in” since its intention was to blame Ukraine for the attacks staged by Moscow.
Kyslytsya noted that the shelling of the ZNPP by Russian troops “directly endangered both the plant facilities and personnel.” In addition, the Russian occupiers mined the area around the Zaporizhzhia NPP and are using it as cover for shelling the Ukraine-controlled cities located on the opposite side of the Dnipro River, especially Marhanets and Nikopol, with multiple launch rocket systems.
The Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN emphasised that Russia must immediately stop all actions against nuclear facilities in Ukraine and cede control over them to the Ukrainian side. At the same time, Kyiv “welcomes the readiness of the IAEA Director-General to send the IAEA-led international mission to the occupied ZNPP” while UN military experts should also be included in its composition.
According to Kyslytsya, Russia’s plans are aimed at disconnecting the ZNPP from the energy system of Ukraine and cutting off electricity in the south of the country. The recent shelling of the plant and neighbouring Enerhodar is a provocation by Russian troops. The diplomat presented relevant evidence at the UN Security Council meeting.
At the same time, Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, Vasiliy Nebenzia did not support the proposal to create a demilitarised zone around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
“The demilitarisation of the plant can make it vulnerable to those who will want to visit it. No one knows what their goals and objectives will be. We cannot rule out any provocations, terrorist attacks on the plant, which we must protect,” Nebenzia said.
He added that the Russian Federation considered it “justifiable for IAEA representatives to arrive at the ZNPP as soon as possible, perhaps even before the end of August.”
The day before, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia had resorted to unconcealed nuclear blackmail, and the shelling of the ZNPP by Russian troops was one of the biggest crimes of the aggressor country.
“Russia once again hit a new low in the world history of terrorism. No one else has used a nuclear plant so obviously to threaten the whole world and to put forward some conditions. And absolutely everyone in the world should react immediately to expel the occupiers from the territory of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. This is a global interest, not just a Ukrainian need,” the Head of State said.
He noted that only the complete withdrawal of the Russians from the territory of the Zaporizhzhia NPP and the restoration of Ukraine’s full control over the situation around the plant would guarantee the restoration of nuclear safety for the whole of Europe.