IAEA chief puts forward new safety plan for Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi on Tuesday presented five principles designed to avoid a nuclear accident at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant (ZNPP) occupied by Russian troops.

Speaking at a UN Security Council meeting, Mr Grossi stressed the adherence to the principles is "essential to avoid the danger of a catastrophic incident."

  • 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;
  • 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;
  • 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;
  • All structures, systems and components essential to the safe and secure operation of ZNPP should be protected from attacks or acts of sabotage;
  • No action should be taken that undermines these principles.

The principles will "help ensure nuclear safety and security at ZNPP in order to prevent a nuclear accident and ensure the integrity of the plant," the IAEA chief said, adding he will visit Kyiv and Moscow soon.

In his speech at the Security Council, Ukraine’s envoy to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya, stressed the only way to prevent a nuclear incident at ZNPP is to fully de-militarise the plant, de-occupy it and return it to full Ukrainian control.

He also called for the withdrawal of troops and all other Russian personnel illegally present at the Zaporizhzhia plant, ensuring uninterrupted power supply to ZNPP from Ukrainian territory, and establishing a humanitarian corridor to ensure the rotation of the plant’s management.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and the third largest in the world. In March 2022, it was occupied by the Russians, which turned it into a military base.

Due to constant Russian shelling, which Russia pins blame on Ukraine for, the Zaporizhzhia plant has at times been disconnected from the Ukrainian power grid and switched to diesel generators.

ZNPP is managed by Russian agency Rosatom, while Ukrainian personnel that operates it are constantly under severe pressure.