UN Nuclear Watchdog to Hold Emergency Meeting Amid Nuclear Plant Attacks

Written by Camilla Jessen

Apr.10 - 2024 12:30 PM CET

Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com
The IAEA convenes an emergency meeting to address safety and security concerns.

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The Board of Governors of the UN's nuclear watchdog is set to convene an emergency meeting this Thursday, 11 April, following mutual requests from Ukraine and Russia.

The meeting aims to address the drone attacks on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Europe’s largest nuclear facility, with each side blaming the other for the aggression, according to Euractiv.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that drones targeted the facility in southern Ukraine this Sunday, affecting one of the reactor buildings. While not placing blame, the agency has called for an immediate cessation of these attacks.

On Tuesday, Russia accused Ukraine of launching drone strikes on the plant for a third consecutive day. In response, Kyiv denied any involvement, suggesting that any reported incidents might have been orchestrated by Moscow.

Accusations and Alarms

Since the plant's capture by Russian forces early in the 2022 invasion, both nations have consistently accused each other of endangering the facility, denying their own involvement.

Despite the shutdown of all reactors at Europe's largest nuclear station, situated near the front lines of the Ukraine conflict, the plant still requires uninterrupted power to cool the reactors and avert a potentially catastrophic meltdown.

A confidential memo to member states from the IAEA Board chairperson revealed that both Ukraine and Russia have requested this urgent meeting to explore the implications for safety, security, and safeguards in light of the recent tensions.

“I hereby notify the Members of the Board that a meeting of the Board has been arranged as follows: 3 p.m. (1300 GMT) on Thursday, 11 April 2024,” the note said, according to Reuters.

Russian and Ukrainian letters were attached to the chairperson’s note.

Russia stated that it wanted a meeting on “the recent attacks and provocations of the armed forces of Ukraine” against Zaporizhzhia.

Kyiv, however, said it wanted to discuss “the situation in Ukraine and the safety, security, and safeguards implications.”

Potential Outcomes and the Energy Sector Assault

Though the board meeting is unlikely to clarify the perpetrators of the recent attacks, it follows four resolutions condemning Russia's actions against Ukrainian nuclear sites since the 2022 invasion, with the latest urging Russia to vacate Zaporizhzhia.

Amid these nuclear safety concerns, Russia initiated a significant offensive against Ukraine's energy infrastructure last month, targeting numerous power plants and substations.

Kyiv reported that Russia deployed over 150 missiles and 240 drones in a single week from March 22, disrupting essential services for millions and compelling Ukraine to import power. This has raised concerns over the energy system's durability, previously impacted by a Russian air campaign in the conflict's initial winter.

Russia maintains that targeting the energy infrastructure serves as a legitimate military strategy, framing recent assaults as retaliatory actions for Ukrainian attacks on Russian territories.

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