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DiCarlo: “any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia […] leading to a possible nuclear incident would have catastrophic consequences”

Mister President,

The United Nations remains gravely concerned about the dangerous situation in and around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southern Ukraine. The plant continues to be operated by Ukrainian technical personnel but has been under the control of the military forces of the Russian Federation since early March.      

In early August, disturbing reports of an escalation of shelling around the plant began to emerge. 

The Secretary-General has appealed to all concerned to exercise common sense and reason and to refrain from undertaking any actions that might endanger the physical integrity, safety or security of the nuclear plant – Europe’s largest.

On 15 August, the Secretary-General discussed the issue of the plant’s safety during a call with Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu.

On 18 August, during his visit to Lviv, he discussed the situation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

In all his statements and meetings, the Secretary-General has continued to call for all military activities in the immediate vicinity of the plant to cease immediately and for all sides to refrain from targeting its facilities or surroundings.

All military personnel and equipment must be withdrawn from the plant. There should be no further deployment of forces or equipment to the site.

The facility must not be used as part of any military operation, and  an agreement on a safe perimeter of demilitarization to ensure the safety of the area should be reached.

Regrettably, despite numerous calls and appeals, instead of de-escalation, we continue to see almost daily reports of alarming incidents involving the plant.

Today the Director General of the IAEA renewed his request

to send an IAEA mission to carry out essential safety, security and safeguards activities at the site.

Preparations for the mission are proceeding, and the IAEA is in active consultations with all parties regarding its efforts to send such a mission as soon as possible.  We welcome Ukraine and Russia’s recent statements indicating support for the IAEA’s aim to send a mission to the plant, which would be IAEA’s first to that site since the start of the war.

Mr. President

Common sense must prevail to avoid any actions that might endanger the physical integrity, safety or security of the plant. As the Secretary-General stressed in his briefing at the Council yesterday, the commitment to dialogue and results must be applied to the critical situation at the plant.

If such incidents continue or escalate, we could face a disaster.

The United Nations continues to fully support the critical work of the International Atomic Energy Agency and its efforts to

ensure the safe operation of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and other nuclear facilities in Ukraine.

In close contact with the IAEA, the UN has assessed that we have the logistics and security capacity in Ukraine to support any

IAEA mission to the plant from Kyiv, provided Ukraine and Russia agree.

We once again urge the parties to provide the IAEA mission with immediate, secure and unfettered access to the site.

Agreement is urgently needed to reestablish Zaporizhzhia as purely civilian infrastructure and to ensure the safety of the area.

We must be clear that any potential damage to the plant, or any other nuclear facilities in Ukraine, leading to a possible nuclear incident would have catastrophic consequences, not only for the immediate vicinity, but for the region and beyond.

Similarly, any damage leading to the plant being cut from the Ukrainian power grid would have catastrophic humanitarian implications, particularly with winter approaching. As the Secretary-General has made clear, the electricity produced at the Zaporizhzhia plant belongs to Ukraine.

At this moment, it is imperative that we receive the expressed commitment of the parties to stop any military activities around the plant to enable its continued safe and secure operations. To paraphrase the Secretary-General’s blunt warning, any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia is suicidal.

Thank you, Mr.  President.