The International Atomic Energy Agency was on 30 May due to brief the UN Security Council on its proposals for safeguarding Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia NPP (ZNPP). “IAEA director general Rafael Grossi is planning to brief the UN Security Council on the nuclear safety and security situation” during a meeting chaired by Switzerland, according to an official statement by the Agency in advance of the meeting.
Director general Grossi has said he is seeking to secure agreement on a set of principles to protect ZNPP during the armed conflict, covering also the availability and security of external power supplies at all times. Mr Grossi’s plan consists of five principles: a ban on the deployment of heavy military equipment and military personnel at nuclear power plants, a ban on shooting from the territory and towards the power plant, ensuring security, protecting all external power lines, and monitoring compliance with these principles.
Since Russia took control of ZNPP in March 2022, the Russian national guard has occupied the plant and in October, Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a decree formally transferring it to Russian jurisdiction under nuclear utility Rosenergoatom, which is part of Rosatom. A Russian Federal State Unitary Enterprise. Zaporizhzhia NPP was established by Rosenergoatom to operate the plant. Ukrainian nuclear utility Energoatom still claims ownership of the plant. Russian military analysts are reportedly suggesting that retaking control of ZNPP is one of the objectives of the expected Ukrainian counter-offensive.
In the run up to the meeting, however, Ukraine’s military intelligence has alleged that Russia was planning a “large-scale provocation” at the plant with the aim of disrupting the counter-offensive. A statement released by the intelligence directorate of Ukraine’s Defence Ministry said Russian forces would strike ZNPP and then report a radioactive leak in order to trigger an international probe that would pause the hostilities and give the Russian forces the respite they need to regroup ahead of the counter-offensive.
The Ukraine directorate added that, in order to make that happen, Russia had “disrupted the rotation of personnel of the permanent monitoring mission” of the IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency that was scheduled for 27 May.
However Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Main Council of the (Russian) Zaporozhye regional administration has alleged that it is Ukraine that is planning a provocation against ZNPP. He told Russian agency Tass that the Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, under the leadership of British special services, was planning some action. He added that Ukrainian military action was also preventing the scheduled rotation of IAEA experts to the plant using artillery and US-supplied HIMARS rockets to attack Vasilyevka, the point where the experts have to cross the front line from Ukrainian to Russian-held territory.
Rogov has also claimed that Ukrainian troops are preparing an operation in which they will fire and try to capture ZNPP. “The Kiev regime is now raising the temperature and stakes around the Zaporizhzhia NPP. Ukrainian militants are preparing an operation to bombard and cross the Dnieper River to land troops and seize the plant, simultaneously spreading a false narrative in advance through their information platforms and materials in the Western media that Russia will be responsible for a possible nuclear catastrophe.”
Rosatom director general Alexey Likhachev confirmed during the Nevsky International Environmental Congress on 25 May that the IAEA is at the final stage of developing a plan to ensure the safety of ZNPP. He added that the Russian side supports the agency's actions and trusts them. According to him, there is a constant exchange of views, noting that the IAEA mission is always present on the territory of the power plant.