Thank you, Mr President, and thank you to Director General Grossi for updating us once again on the situation in Ukraine.
The UK remains deeply concerned about the continuing effects of Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine and, in the context of today’s meeting, its effects on nuclear safety.
The Council discussed Russia’s reckless actions at Ukrainian nuclear facilities, including the Chernobyl nuclear site and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant at the start of the invasion.
On March 3, the IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution calling on Russia to end all actions against and at all nuclear facilities in Ukraine, so that the competent Ukrainian authorities can regain full control and ensure their safe and secure operation, and that the IAEA can resume their important safeguards verification activities.
Today, more than five months later, Russia’s control of the Zaporizhzhia plant continues. Ukrainian competent authorities and IAEA inspectors are still unable to perform their essential functions properly.
As IAEA Director General Grossi has said, Russia’s actions violated almost all of its seven pillars of nuclear safety and security. Russia’s actions are contrary to the principles of the Convention on Nuclear Safety and other international conventions on nuclear safety, and jeopardize the safety of millions of people who would be affected by a nuclear accident in Ukraine.
In light of this, and despite Russia’s continued lies and obfuscation in this room about its brutal and irresponsible assault on Ukraine, we need to be clear. It is Russia’s continued invasion and military presence that endangers the plant and thereby endangers the local population, the wider region and the entire international community.
We commend the efforts of Director General Grossi to strengthen nuclear safety and security in Ukraine under difficult circumstances, as well as the tireless and heroic efforts of Ukrainian personnel at nuclear facilities, despite the immense pressure they are under.
We reiterate our call for IAEA inspectors to be allowed access to all nuclear facilities in Ukraine to address nuclear safety, security and safeguards concerns, in a manner that respects the sovereignty of the Ukraine on its territory and its infrastructure.
In this regard, we note with satisfaction Foreign Minister Kuleba’s letter to Mr. Grossi and the Secretary-General on this issue.
And we once again call on Russia to immediately withdraw its forces from Ukraine and return full control of all Ukrainian nuclear facilities to their rightful sovereign owner to ensure their safe and secure operation.