I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The following countries align themselves with this statement: North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Albania*, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Iceland+, Liechtenstein+, Norway+, Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Georgia and San Marino.
The EU reiterates its strongest condemnation of the unprovoked and unjustified aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine. The Russian Federation’s invasion of a sovereign country is a gross violation of international law, including the UN Charter, and it severely undermines European and global security and stability. We also condemn Belarus for its support to the Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Three months have passed since the Board of Governors adopted Resolution GOV/2022/17 addressing the Russian actions, which pose serious and direct threats to the safety and security of Ukrainian nuclear facilities, and impede the Agency from fully and safely conducting safeguards verification activities in Ukraine.
The EU expresses its grave concern about the Russian Federation’s non-compliance with the Board Resolution and its continued disregard of the seven indispensable pillars of nuclear safety and security, as set out by the IAEA Director General. We cannot emphasise strongly enough that this is unacceptable behaviour from a Member State which continues to hold a privileged role at the IAEA and its bodies. The Russian Federation must immediately cease its blatant aggression, unconditionally withdraw all its armed forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine and fully respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence within its international recognised borders.
The EU fully supports the work of the IAEA and its Director General to assist Ukraine in the area of nuclear safety and security and ensure safeguards implementation during the ongoing military conflict. We expect the Director General to formally report to the Board on the implementation of the March 3 Resolution and include this as a standing item on the agenda of the upcoming Board meetings for an appropriate follow-up.
We recall that back in 2009, the IAEA General Conference adopted a consensus 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 recognizes 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 indiscriminate attacks of the Russian armed forces in and around Ukraine’s nuclear sites, also including the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone and Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, increased the risk of a nuclear accident, with potentially severe adverse consequences for human health and the environment. The risks are global, bearing in mind that radioactive material has been reported lost or stolen, and it could be subject to illicit trafficking across the borders. We recall that the Russian aggression once again underlines the urgent need for legally binding international rules specifically prohibiting armed attacks against any nuclear installation devoted to peaceful purposes, as called for by IAEA General Conference resolutions in accordance with the UN Charter (GC(XXVII)/RES/407 and GC(XXIX)/RES/444).
Russia’s illegal occupation of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia is a matter of grave concern and must be addressed by the Board. We urge the Russian Federation to immediately withdraw its military and other personnel from Zaporizhzhia so that the Ukrainian authorities can resume their sovereign responsibilities and that the legitimate operating staff can conduct their duties without outside pressure and interference.
We are deeply concerned about the impact the Russian invasion is having on the IAEA’s ability to carry out its verification pursuant to Ukraine’s safeguards obligations under safe and secure conditions and in a timely manner. We fully support the Director General’s efforts to dispatch, at the request of Ukraine, an IAEA-led international mission to Zaporizhzhia at the earliest opportunity.
Since Russia’s full scale military invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, the EU and its Member States provide comprehensive support to Ukraine in the area of nuclear safety and radiation protection. Thanks to the existing cooperation channels, radiological and nuclear items could be delivered promptly, including personal dosimeters, radiometers, spectrometers, personal protective equipment and iodine prophylaxis capabilities.
The EU will continue to focus its assistance also on the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant and the Exclusion Zone where the estimated damage caused by the Russian troops, including to the laboratory originally provided and funded by the EU, amounts to €80 million, as well as on support to the Ukrainian regulator.
In addition, the EU will continue to support the IAEA’s nuclear safety and security assistance to Ukraine. We encourage further information sharing and donor coordination to ensure an effective international response. We would appreciate receiving an overview of the IAEA’s assistance efforts in Ukraine at the earliest possibility.
We highly appreciate the work of the Ukrainian regulator and its staff, and the staff in Ukrainian nuclear facilities who continue to operate under extremely difficult circumstances.
The EU and its Member States stand firmly by Ukraine’s side.
Thank you, Chair.
* Candidate Countries 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, Liechtenstein and Norway are members of the EFTA and of the European Economic Area.