IAEA board calls for Russia to hand over control of Zaporizhzhia

16 September 2022

The board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) adopted the resolution, which calls on Russia to "cease all actions against, and at, Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant", in a vote with 26 in favour, seven abstentions and two voting against.

Zaporizhzhia is Europe's largest nuclear power plant (Image: Energoatom)

Russia Today reported Russia's mission to the IAEA responding to the vote by saying that the document was "pushed through" by the West, while "the majority of humanity refused to support it". The two countries to vote against it were Russia and China, with abstentions from Egypt, South Africa, Senegal, Burundi, Vietnam, India and Pakistan.

In his response to the adoption of the resolution, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the message from the IAEA, saying "the complete demilitarisation of the station, the immediate withdrawal of all Russian troops from there is the only thing that can ensure the implementation of this IAEA resolution".

The resolution itself "expresses grave concern that the Russian Federation has not heeded the call of the Board (of IAEA governors) to immediately cease all actions against and at nuclear facilities in Ukraine".

It "deplores" Russia's "persistent violent actions against nuclear facilities in Ukraine", and "calls upon" Russia to  "immediately cease all actions against, and at, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and any other nuclear facility in Ukraine in order for the competent Ukrainian authorities to regain full control over all nuclear facilities within Ukraine's internationally recognised borders".

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is the largest nuclear plant in Europe, with six reactors. Russian forces took control of it in early March, although it continues to be operated by its Ukrainian staff. It is close to the current frontline between Russian and Ukrainian forces and there have been numerous cases of shelling in or near the plant site, with both sides blaming the other.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi led a mission to the plant at the start of the month to inspect the damage and carry out safety and security assessments. Two IAEA officials remain at the plant. Grossi had hoped that their presence would stabilise the situation, but shelling has been reported to have been continuing. He has begun discussions with both sides about making the plant and its perimeter a safety and security zone.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News