Common Sense, Cooperation Must Guide Way Forward towards Ensuring Safety of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Secretary-General Tells Security Council

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Security Council meeting on threats to international peace and security, in New York today:

Thank you for convening this briefing on developments in and around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine.  I want to salute the courageous efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the mission led by Director-General [Rafael] Grossi.  Allow me to also thank the parties for their cooperation.  I will leave it to Director General Grossi to provide an overview of what he and his team observed during their stay.

The United Nations Secretariat proudly supported IAEA in its critical mission to ensure the safe operation of the plant.  I want to personally thank all the colleagues assisting their mission, especially the 13 United Nations support and security professionals who played an essential role to allow for the successful deployment of the IAEA mission.

I remain gravely concerned about the situation in and around the Zaporizhzhia plant, including reports of recent shelling.  Let’s tell it like it is:  Any damage, whether intentional or not, to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia — or to any other nuclear facility in Ukraine — could spell catastrophe, not only for the immediate vicinity, but for the region and beyond.  All steps must be taken to avoid such a scenario.

Common sense and cooperation must guide the way forward.  Any action that might endanger the physical integrity, safety or security of the nuclear plant is unacceptable.  All efforts to re-establish the plant as purely civilian infrastructure are vital.

As a first step, Russian and Ukrainian forces must commit not to engage in any military activity towards the plant site or from the plant site.  The Zaporizhzhia facility and its surroundings must not be a target or a platform for military operations.

As a second step, an agreement on a demilitarized perimeter should be secured.  Specifically, that would include a commitment by Russian forces to withdraw all military personnel and equipment from that perimeter and a commitment by Ukrainian forces not to move into it.

Operators at the plant must be able to carry out their responsibilities, and communications must be maintained.  Now is the time to urgently agree on concrete measures to ensure the safety of the area.

Regrettably, last month, the tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, fell victim to the war in Ukraine.  The outcome document sought to address the issue of the safety and security of nuclear power plants in armed conflict zones, including in Ukraine.  But, the Conference failed to reach consensus to utilize the opportunity to strengthen the Treaty.  I appeal to all States to use every avenue of dialogue and diplomacy to make progress on these critical issues.

Looking ahead, I trust that the IAEA experts now deployed to Zaporizhzhia will be able to carry out their work without hindrance and contribute to ensuring lasting nuclear safety and security in the plant.

All of us have a stake in the success of their critical mission.  Let us commit to do everything we can to support them.  And let us resolve to keep working for peace in line with international law and the United Nations Charter.

For information media. Not an official record.