The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has issued a report on Nuclear Safety, Security & Safeguards in Ukraine, covering the period between February 2022 and February 2023. The 52-page report provides an overview of the situation and the IAEA’s activities to reduce the likelihood of a nuclear accident during the armed conflict.

“One year has passed since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, marking the first time in history that a war is being fought amid the facilities of a major nuclear power programme,” IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a foreword of the report. “As this tragic war enters its second year, I want to reassure the people of Ukraine and the international community that they can count on the IAEA, and me as its Director General, to do everything possible within our remit to assist them and to avert the danger of a nuclear accident that could cause even more suffering where there is already far too much.”

In the past year, he noted, several of Ukraine’s five nuclear power plants and other facilities have come under direct shelling. Every single one of the IAEA’s seven indispensable pillars for ensuring nuclear safety and security in an armed conflict has been compromised in Ukraine, including the physical integrity of nuclear facilities; the operation of safety and security systems; the working conditions of staff; supply chains, communication channels, radiation monitoring and emergency arrangements; and the crucial off-site power supply.

“The IAEA has been closely monitoring the situation and assisting Ukraine every single day since the start of the war,” Grossi said. IAEA assistance has involved:

  • The continuous engagement of the IAEA’s Incident & Emergency Centre;
  • Nine IAEA missions to Ukraine;
  • The stationing of IAEA safety and security experts at every Ukrainian nuclear site, including Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) on the front lines of the war;
  • Facilitating an international assistance package totalling over €7m ($7.38m); and
  • Keeping the world informed of the situation at Ukraine’s nuclear sites in more than 140 web updates, four reports and multiple briefings, including to the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.

Grossi also highlighted his efforts since September 2022 for the implementation of a nuclear safety & security protection zone at ZNPP. The report provides an overview of relevant aspects of the implementation of safeguards under the current circumstances in Ukraine. He said ZNPP continues to be fragile and potentially dangerous. “We are fortunate that a nuclear accident has not yet come to pass, and we must do everything in our power to minimise the chance that it does.”

He added: “When we come to this time next year, I hope the hostilities will have ended and that I will be offering you insight into how the IAEA will help Ukraine rebuild what was lost and re-establish a sound and robust nuclear safety and security regime.”

The report concluded that the current situation is untenable “and the best action that can be taken to ensure the safety and security of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities is an end to the armed conflict”. It noted: “The IAEA remains committed to provide any support it can to help ensure the safe and secure operation of nuclear facilities and activities using radioactive sources in Ukraine both during the armed conflict and long after it ceases. The continued commitment and close cooperation of member states with the IAEA is essential.