IAEA and Rosatom hold Zaporizhzhia protection zone talks

22 December 2022

Rosatom's director general Alexey Likhachev and International Atomic Energy Agency director general Rafael Mariano Grossi held talks, which the Russian company said showed "significant closeness of positions" on a draft declaration on a safety and protection zone at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The talks took place in Moscow (Image: Rosatom)

Russia's nuclear energy company Rosatom said, after the talks: "During the meeting, approaches to the creation of a nuclear and physical safety protection zone at the Zaporizhzhia NPP were discussed. Significant closeness of positions on the draft declaration on the creation of such a zone was noted. Negotiations will continue with the understanding of the need to reach a mutually acceptable text as soon as possible.

"The parties discussed in detail the situation at the Zaporizhzhia NPP in the context of the task of improving the reliability of electricity and heat supply at the NPP site and the city of Energodar. Issues related to the work of the mission of IAEA experts at the station were discussed."

Grossi tweeted: "Another round of necessary discussions on the creation of a protection zone for the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. It's key that the zone focuses solely on preventing a nuclear accident. I am continuing my efforts towards this goal with a sense of utmost urgency."

Rosatom said both sides called the conversation 'substantive, useful and frank' (Image: Rosatom)

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has six reactors - the biggest in Ukraine - and has been under Russian military control since early March. It is located on the frontline of the war and the site has been hit by shelling on a number of occasions (each side blames the other) as well as having had to rely on emergency diesel generators for essential safety functions for times when external power supplies have been lost to the site.

Grossi has been leading IAEA efforts for months now to bring in a safety and protection zone at and around the nuclear power plant to reduce the safety risks it faces from the conflict.

Although both sides have backed the idea in principle, there has yet to be an agreement on what form it could take. Russia's president issued a decree in September saying that the area including the nuclear power plant were now part of Russia, but Ukraine rejects the decree and says the area, and the nuclear power plant, remains Ukrainian. It says that the best way to assure the safety of the plant is for the Russian military to leave the site and hand it back to Ukraine.

The talks also covered the remit of the IAEA team now permanently stationed at the site. They have been there since the summer. Earlier this month the IAEA also announced it was stationing experts at the other three Ukrainian nuclear power plants, plus Chernobyl. Grossi said at the time: "Our mission at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has shown the vital importance of the IAEA being there to monitor the situation and give technical advice. Thanks to this presence, the IAEA is providing the world with impartial, technical and factual information about developments on the ground."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News