One year on – IAEA report on nuclear safety in Ukraine

7 March 2023

One year on, the International Atomic Energy Agency has issued a report, ‘Nuclear Safety, Security and Safeguards in Ukraine’, covering the period between February 2022 and February 2023. The 52-page report provides an overview of the situation and the IAEA’s activities to reduce the likelihood of a nuclear accident during the armed conflict.

“One year has passed since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, marking the first time in history that a war is being fought amid the facilities of a major nuclear power programme,” IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a foreword of the report. “As this tragic war enters its second year, I want to reassure the people of Ukraine and the international community that they can count on the IAEA, and me as its director general, to do everything possible within our remit to assist them and to avert the danger of a nuclear accident that could cause even more suffering where there is already far too much.”

Under attack

In the past year, he noted, several of Ukraine’s five nuclear power plants and other facilities have come under direct shelling. Every single one of the IAEA’s seven indispensable pillars for ensuring nuclear safety and security in an armed conflict has been compromised in Ukraine, including the physical integrity of nuclear facilities; the operation of safety and security systems; the working conditions of staff; supply chains, communication channels, radiation monitoring and emergency arrangements; and the crucial off-site power supply.

“The IAEA has been closely monitoring the situation and assisting Ukraine every single day since the start of the war,” Mr Grossi said. “This assistance has involved the continuous engagement of the IAEA’s Incident and Emergency Centre; nine IAEA missions to Ukraine; the stationing of IAEA safety and security experts at every Ukrainian nuclear site, including Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant on the front lines of the war; facilitating an international assistance package totalling over €7 million; and keeping the world informed of the situation at Ukraine’s nuclear sites in more than 140 web updates, four reports and multiple briefings, including to the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.”

Mr Grossi further highlighted his efforts since September 2022 for the implementation of a nuclear safety and security protection zone at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, ZNPP.

The report also gives an overview of relevant aspects of the implementation of safeguards under the current circumstances in Ukraine.

  • The precarious nuclear safety and security situation was highlighted again on 1 March, when the ZNPP’s only remaining 330 kV back-up power line was disconnected for a third time in less than a week, likely because of shelling on the other side of the Dnipro river, the ISAMZ team (IAEA Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhya) reported.

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