Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC meeting on the attacks of Ukrainian armed forces on the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant
We thank UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi for the briefings.
We pay tribute to Mr. Grossi for his decision to send the Agency's mission to the nuclear power plant in Zaporozhye. This is a responsible and courageous step on the part of the IAEA leadership, confirming the Agency's global role in the field of nuclear energy.
We are glad that the visit allowed you, Mr. General Director, and your team to personally assess the situation at the Zaporozhye plant and make sure that we strictly observe the safety and security principles you formulated. It is important, as you told during your briefing in Vienna on September 2, that you were able to see for yourself that thanks to the well-established cooperation between the personnel and the Russian armed forces guarding the plant, it is functioning normally and there are no internal threats to its safety. You had a great opportunity to see that the only threat to the plant comes from the shelling and sabotage by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
We see a confirmation of this in your conclusion, voiced at the briefing I mentioned, that the Agency's greatest concern is the physical safety and integrity of the plant, the risks for which have increased due to shelling in August.
We regret that in your report on the implementation of IAEA safeguards in Ukraine for the period from April to September of this year, issued just a couple of hours ago, the source of the shelling is not directly indicated. We understand your position as the head of the international regulator, but in the current situation it is extremely important to call a spade a spade. Perhaps, if the document were devoted solely to the results of your mission to Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, your conclusions could be more clear and less ambiguous. We will need additional time to study the document, so I will not dwell on it in detail. We would just like to ask you to clarify what kind of military equipment you saw during your visit to the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant?
We do not sit idly by and let the reckless actions of the Kiev regime to be hushed up. Last month, we twice convened a meeting of the UN Security Council on this issue. We tried to get the message across to our Western colleagues, explained that these shellings pose a real threat of a nuclear disaster at the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, urged Western delegations to think about the possible consequences for the population of the continent and calm their proteges in Kiev. Unfortunately, they did hot heed to our call, and the Kiev regime continued to shell the power plant with the tacit consent of the Western curators. They still do this today, which I will elaborate on later.
We welcome the decision of the IAEA leadership to establish a permanent presence of the Agency at the plant. This qualitatively changes the state of affairs: the IAEA can now independently assess the situation in real time, taking into account the fact that two inspectors are at the Zaporozhye power plant on a permanent basis. We are ready to render all possible assistance to their work.
From the outset, I would like to emphasize we have been consistently supporting the IAEA's efforts to ensure the nuclear safety and security of Ukraine's nuclear facilities. The Russian side did everything in its power to ensure that Rafael Grossi and his team safely reached the ZNPP, completed their work and returned to Vienna. This fact was noted by the official representative of the UN Secretary General, who stressed that "the Russian Federation has done everything necessary to ensure the safety of the IAEA inspectors who visited the Zaporozhye NPP." We would like to hear your assessment, Mr. Director General, of how satisfied the IAEA is with the engagement with the Russian side, in particular, in terms of ensuring the proper level of mission security.
Unfortunately, as we feared, the Ukrainian side, realizing that it cannot use the IAEA visit to the ZNPP for its propaganda purposes, did everything to disrupt it. On September 1, the day of the arrival of the Agency's mission, the Armed Forces of Ukraine opened massive artillery fire on the station and the city of Energodar from 5 a.m. onwards. They continued to shell the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant until the last moment, when the IAEA team was already on its way to the station. Ukrainian artillery shelled the territory of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, the meeting place of the IAEA mission with Russian specialists in the area of the township of Vasilyevka, as well as the route of their movement to Energodar. Four shells exploded at a distance of 400 meters from the first power unit of the Zaporozhye NPP. The actions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine directly threatened the life and safety of the Agency inspectors.
However, the Kiev regime did not stop there. It resorted to a heinous provocation, attempting to seize the station by force right before the arrival of the IAEA mission. At 6 a.m. on September 1, Armed Forces of Ukraine combat sabotage groups were directed towards the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant through the Kakhovka reservoir in order to capture the station. In other words, in order to make it look like the Armed Forces of Ukraine were achieving progress, which is of course necessary for the Zelenskyy regime to beg for more Western arms, active hostilities were launched around the power plant, which could lead to critical damage to its integrity. Were that operation to have succeeded and the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant fallen under the control of the Kyiv authorities, the Director General of the IAEA, Mr. Grossi, and the other mission personnel would have become human shields for Ukrainian saboteurs.
These provocations were stopped thanks to the effective actions of the units of the Russian armed forces and the National Guard, as well as the vigilance of the local population. As a result, the meeting of representatives of the Russian Federation with the IAEA team took place only at noon, four hours later than planned. We pay tribute to the courage of the representatives of the Agency and their readiness to work literally under Ukrainian fire.
We would like to ask you, Mr. General Director, how the attempt of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to disrupt it through the landing of saboteurs with the aim of forcibly seizing Zaporozhye nuclear power plant affected the work of the mission. How can you comment on these actions of the Ukrainian side in the context of threats to the physical security of the station and the safety of the Agency's personnel?
I would like to address a similar question to the Secretary General. United Nations Department for Safety and Security employees were part of the IAEA mission and directly involved in ensuring its safety and security. It was their duty to assess the situation and be aware of any potential risks to it. What does his staff have to say about the risks created for the mission by the Ukrainian side?
Kiev did not even bother to hide its disappointment with the outcomes of the IAEA visit to ZNPP. Vladimir Zelensky's adviser Mykhailo Podolyak, in particular, said that "all these mediation missions look extremely inefficient and extremely cowardly, extremely unprofessional." According to him, they have never been ready to work in extreme conditions, and this applies not only to the IAEA, but also to the UN. In the description of the Ukrainian functionary, international organizations “look untrustworthy from the very outset.” Mr. Podolyak also doubted that the IAEA mission was able to carry out a comprehensive examination in two hours.
Driven by helpless rage, Kiev decided not to give up on its extremely dangerous plans. Despite the continued presence of representatives of the IAEA at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, on September 2, the Kiev regime made yet another unsuccessful attempt to seize the plant, which was thwarted by Russian armed forces.
Since then, the Kiev regime has continued to attack the plant on a daily basis. On September 3, the Armed Forces of Ukraine used eight unmanned aerial vehicles with suspended munition. Thanks to the actions of the Russian armed forces, Ukrainian drones approaching the station were blocked, after that they were forced drop their grenades in deserted areas at a distance of more than one and a half kilometers away from the plant’s security perimeter. On September 4, Ukrainian troops used an unmanned combat aerial vehicle to strike. As a result of the action of the Russian armed forces, the drone lost control and crashed one kilometre away from the nuclear power plant.
On September 5, the Armed Forces of Ukraine carried out a new shelling of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant with three artillery charges. One of the shells hit the roof of building No. 1, which contains the fuel assembly and solid radioactive waste.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, shelling of Zaporozhye nuclear power plant and Energodar is conducted out from the opposite bank of the Kakhovka reservoir, mainly from the settlements of Nikopol, Marganets and Maryevka, which are under the control of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. As a result of the Ukranian attacks five out of seven plant’s power lines were damaged.
We call on the Security Council members and the leadership of the UN to strongly condemn these provocative actions of the Kiev regime, which are aimed not only against the plant staff, but also against international officials - employees of the IAEA.
Residents of the city of Energodar continue to be used as a live target for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Only today there were five artillery attacks on the city. We know, Mr. General Director, that they sent you a collective appeal with a request to stop the provocations of the Kiev regime. This story was widely covered in the media. You told them that you would do everything in your power. We would like to ask you to dwell on this topic in more detail. What are your thoughts after talking with the people from Energodar?
We continue to do our best to ensure the safe operation of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. Our standard technical personnel, with the support of Russian specialists, are ensuring its functioning. So far, the radiation situation at the station remains normal. However, should provocations by the Kiev regime continue, there is no guarantee there wouldn’t be more serious consequences. Responsibility for this lies entirely with Kiev and its Western patrons and all other members of the Security Council, who still have not found the courage to call a spade a spade and call on Kiev to stop its reckless actions against the power plant, which pose a real threat to international peace and security.
We hope that today the Council members will have the courage to do this in order to prevent a possible nuclear disaster.