EU Statement on safety, security and safeguards implications of the situation in Ukraine as delivered at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors on 9 March 2022
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The following countries align themselves with this statement: the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Albania*, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Iceland+, Liechtenstein+, Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Georgia and San Marino.
The EU condemns in the strongest possible terms the unprovoked and unjustified military aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine. We welcome the IAEA Board of Governors Resolution GOV/2022/17 of 3 March 2022 which sends yet another urgent message to the Russian Federation that it must immediately cease its military aggression against Ukraine and fully respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence within its internationally recognised borders. The EU also condemns the involvement of Belarus in this aggression against Ukraine and calls upon both Russia and Belarus to abide by their obligations and stop the gross violations of international law and the UN Charter.
We are extremely concerned by the nuclear safety, security and safeguards risks caused by the Russian invasion on Ukraine and the potential damage to its nuclear facilities that could have significantly adverse impact with potentially severe consequences for human health and the environment.
In this regard, we deplore the indiscriminate attacks of the Russian Armed Forces on several nuclear sites in particular in and around the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone, the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, and most recently on a research neutron source facility in Kharkiv. Russian actions put at risk nuclear power plants and other nuclear facilities, posing a serious threat of a major nuclear accident. This is completely unacceptable and extremely worrying.
We recall that in 2009, the IAEA General Conference unanimously adopted Decision GC(53)/DEC/13 stating that “any armed attack on and threat against nuclear facilities devoted to peaceful purposes constitutes a violation of the principles of the UN Charter, international law and the Statute of the Agency”. We also recall IAEA General Conference Resolution GC(43)/533 which recognises that an armed attack or a threat of armed attack on a safeguarded nuclear facility, in operation or under construction, would create a situation in which the UN Security Council would have to act immediately in accordance with the provisions of the UN Charter.
The international community will hold Russia accountable for its aggression including the nuclear safety and security threats it is causing.
We reiterate our urgent call, in line with IAEA Board of Governors’ Resolution GOV/2022/17 of 3 March 2022, for Russia to immediately cease all military operations against and at all nuclear facilities in Ukraine, in order for the competent Ukrainian authorities to preserve and promptly regain full control over all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders and ensure the safe and secure operation of all facilities; and in order for the Agency to fully resume and continue its safeguards verification activities, including the necessary verification of material accountancy and control.
In this context, the EU underlines the importance of respecting the seven pillars presented by the IAEA Director General at the 2 March 2022 extraordinary Board of Governors meeting. Notably, it is critical that Ukraine’s nuclear facilities can operate without outside interference under the full control of the Ukrainian regulator, and that the Ukrainian staff has unhindered regular access to conduct their duties without undue pressure and to ensure safe operation. In this regard, we stress the IAEA Director General’s words that having operating staff subject to the authority of the Russian military commander, contravenes an indispensable pillar of nuclear safety. We also recall the statements of the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) of 27 February and 6 March 2022.
We must do everything that we can to prevent a nuclear accident, incident or other radiological emergency that could seriously impact local populations, neighbouring countries and the international community. It is time to act to avoid such a scenario.
The EU therefore fully supports the initiative of the IAEA Director General to promote a set of practical commitments to ensure the safety and security of the nuclear facilities in Ukraine in line with the seven pillars of nuclear safety. The EU stands ready to provide any assistance the Director General would require to achieve this goal.
The EU commends the Agency for the continuous monitoring of the situation, in close contact with the Ukrainian authorities. We encourage the IAEA Director General to use all available IAEA instruments, including additional tools that can be set up, to support Ukraine’s efforts to ensure safety and security in all facilities of the country.
We would like to express our utmost gratitude to the Ukrainian National Regulator and its staff and the staff in Ukrainian nuclear facilities for all their work under these extremely difficult circumstances.
The European Union reiterates its unwavering support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders. We will stand firmly by Ukraine’s side.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman
*Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania as well as potential Candidate Country Bosnia and Herzegovina continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
+Iceland and Liechtenstein are members of the EFTA and of the European Economic Area.