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IAEA Director says Zaporizhzhia fire did not affect reactors

March 4, 2022

In a briefing to the United Nations Security Council today, speaking from an aircraft enroute to Tehran to address "outstanding aspects of the nuclear power program" in Iran, Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that images on social media of a fire at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant showed a burning building near reactors, but not reactors themselves. "A projectile had impacted a building adjacent to the block of reactors, six of them. The projectile impacted this building and a fire ensued which was after some time put out by the fire brigade," Director Grossi said. "Operation continues normally, though as I have stressed to the board of governors of the IAEA, there is no normalcy to the situation when there are military forces in charge of the site." Director Grossi said he was ready to travel "as soon as practicable" to Chernobyl, in order to consult with Ukrainian counterparts, "but also when necessary with the authorities in charge," he said, referring to Russian Federation forces. Director Grossi said his aim there would be apolitical and would be undertaken strictly "in order to establish a stable framework, so observance of the basic principles of safety and security, starting with the physical integrity of the facilities, can be observed." Permanent Representative of Russian Federation to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia blamed destruction to the Zaporizhhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) on Ukrainian "saboteurs." Ukraine Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya called his Russian counterpart's remarks "gaslighting," and recalled that on Thursday Russian air strikes had killed 47 residents of Chernihiv, including children. "It is not only Ukraine under Russian attack, it is Europe, it is the entire world, it is humanity," he said. "Urgent discussion on establishing a ban on all flights in the airspace of Ukraine should be a top priority of the council." At the opening of the meeting, Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, warned that attacks on nuclear facilities are in violation of international humanitarian law, specifically Article 56 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions.

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