Russia-Ukraine War: UNSC Intervenes in Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant, Makes New Rules

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency will present its case to the UN Security Council on Tuesday to take over Ukraine’s ailing Zaporizhia nuclear power facility after months of fruitless negotiations between Russia and Ukraine.

What Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the I.A.E.A., would deliver to the Security Council was initially unclear. This meeting was called by Switzerland’s foreign ministry, which is now chairing the council, to “encourage the parties involved to adhere to the IAEA’s nuclear security principles,” according to a statement released on Monday.

Un Security Council IAEA on the Petition of Zaporozhye Nuclear Facilities
Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant, Makes New Rules

The stakes were high leading up to Tuesday’s meeting, but the politics keeping the agency from agreeing thus far were also expected to stand in the way of a resolution before the council.

Russia and China, which have supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by joining forces with Moscow, have veto power on the council. Some of Ukraine’s closest friends, the United States, Britain, and France, share this view and are unlikely to support a proposal Kyiv disapproves of.

I.A.E.A. personnel stationed at the Zaporizhzhia plant have been forced to seek refuge on multiple occasions as the factory has been destroyed by fighting in the area.

Power has been interrupted at the Russian-occupied factory at least seven times during the war, most recently only last week, necessitating emergency diesel generators to keep vital cooling equipment operational.

The situation has worsened dramatically in recent weeks, and the plant’s fate has become a frequent focus of the propaganda war from both sides as they prepare for an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive.

On Friday, the Ukrainian military intelligence agency warned that Russian soldiers were trying to fake a nuclear catastrophe at the plant to buy themselves some time to regroup. And a Russian official, Vladimir Rogov, has accused Ukraine of plotting to fabricate the disaster so that they can blame Russia for it.

Un Security Council IAEA on the Petition of Zaporozhye Nuclear Facilities
Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant, Makes New Rules

There were frantic evacuations this month from the nearby town of Enerhodar, where many of the facility’s workers live, due to the unstable conditions around the plant. It was a “panic,” as described by the town’s exiled mayor, Dmytro Orlov, who said that gas stations ran out of fuel and medical equipment was looted.

Russia has managed Europe’s largest nuclear facility for nearly a year. The guidelines aim to prevent a disaster.

  • The I.A.E.A.’s new measures for the Zaporizhzhia plant are meant to avert a nuclear catastrophe.
  • The W.H.O. says that Russia has carried out more than 1,000 attacks on Ukrainian healthcare facilities
  • Drone strikes force Moscow to adapt its Cold War missile shield to modern warfare.
  • The drone attacks in Moscow are the latest assault exposing Russia’s vulnerability.
  • The Kremlin’s claim draws attention to Ukraine’s drone arsenal.
  • ‘Everyone is tired’: Kyiv residents struggle with exhaustion and stress amid overnight attacks.

The International Atomic Energy Agency president said Tuesday that he would publicly notify of any violations of five essential criteria to prevent a nuclear disaster at Ukraine’s Zaporizhia nuclear power facility.

The UN Security Council was briefed on the rules by I.A.E.A. Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi. First, “there shall be no attack from or against the plant.”

Over a year, the Russian military has run Europe’s largest plant. Ukrainian workers operate key cooling equipment even though the plant no longer generates energy.

On Tuesday, Mr. Grossi said frontline fighting had repeatedly damaged the facility, cut its power supply, and caused a “unsustainable” personnel issue.

After months of failing to build a security zone surrounding the plant, where the agency has stationed its monitors, Mr. Grossi promised to report irregularities. While negotiating an accord with Russia and Ukraine, Mr. Grossi avoided blaming either country for damage and disruptions.

Mr. Grossi told the Council that Ukrainian and Russian officials at the “highest levels” had helped create the new guidelines, but it was uncertain if they would follow them.

The new rules state that the plant should not be used as a base for heavy weaponry or military personnel that could be used in an attack, that the plant’s off-site power supplies should not be put at risk, that all structures and systems essential to the plant’s operations should be protected; and that no action should be taken to undermine the above security principles.

Ukraine and its allies have regularly accused Russia of using the facility as a staging ground for attacks. Kyiv officials have stated that Ukrainian workers at the plant were compelled to work at gunpoint.

U.S. officials speaking anonymously said Russia unplugged radiation monitoring instruments at the site. The officials said the US could still remotely monitor the site, including with sensors near the plant, and were sure they could promptly warn of a leak.

After Mr. Grossi’s briefing, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield called Russia’s activities a “clear escalation” of its efforts to “undermine Ukrainian sovereignty and authority” over the facility.

“And this undermines our confidence in the plant’s nuclear safety,” she continued.

After Mr. Grossi’s briefing, Sergiy Kyslytsya, the Ukrainian ambassador to the UN, told the Council that Ukraine backed Mr. Grossi’s attempts to safeguard the nuclear plant. Still, his rules should have demanded its “full demilitarization and de-occupation.”

Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian U.N. ambassador, blamed Ukraine for threatening the facility. He said Russia followed I.A.E.A. guidelines.

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