UK Ambassador to the IAEA Corinne Kitsell’s statement to the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors meeting on Ukraine

Corinne Kitsell OBE

Thank you, Chair.

The Director General’s thorough report, which is the only source of objective information about the nuclear safety situation at Ukraine’s Zaporizhizhia Nuclear Power Plant, provides another stark reminder of the severe implications of Russia’s war against Ukraine. 

We are concerned that since the March Board of Governors, the IAEA now assesses that at ZNPP, all of the DG’s “Seven Pillars” for ensuring nuclear safety and security in armed conflict are compromised fully or partially.  

Each time this Board meets, we see an erosion of safety at the plant and without ZNPP being returned to its rightful owner – Ukraine – we can only expect this trend to continue. 

We note all reactor units at ZNPP are now in cold-shut down, finally complying with the regulatory order issued a year ago by the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine. However, as the DG recognises in his update of 30 May, even in this scenario, the situation remains extremely fragile. We agree with his assessment that all six reactors should remain in cold shutdown. 

The DG’s report again highlights multiple concerns at ZNPP, including:  

  • Challenges around ensuring adequate staffing and routine inspection and maintenance; 

  • Fragile logistical supply chains; and  

  • “Major shortcomings” in emergency arrangements in terms of ensuring an effective response. 

As discussed at the Extraordinary Board meeting in April and at the UN Security Council, we are extremely concerned by reports of drone strikes hitting the site of ZNPP, as well as of rounds of outgoing artillery fire from near the plant in April. Reports of increased military activity, including gun fire and explosions at the site and in its vicinity, are extremely worrying.  

We echo the DG’s appeal to abstain from actions which could violate his five concrete principles for upholding safety and security at ZNPP. We also call on Russia to allow IAEA experts full and complete access to all areas of the plant they request.  


The vulnerability of the power supply to Ukraine’s nuclear sites presents serious challenge to safety. This is power vital for essential functions required to prevent a nuclear accident. 

During this reporting period: 

  • The 330 kilovolt back-up power line to ZNPP was disconnected on 20 February for 23 days. This line was also disconnected on 4 April for two days;
  • On 23 March, the 750 kilovolt line at ZNPP was disconnected for several hours due to military activity. This line was temporarily disconnected again on 23 May; 

  • Two of South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant’s power lines were disconnected for a few hours due to military activity; 

  • Rivne Nuclear Power Plant reported on 8 May fluctuations in power supply due to attacks on energy infrastructure elsewhere in Ukraine;  

  • The subcritical Neutron Source installation in Kharkiv lost its external power supply on two occasions; and 

  • The Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology lost external power due to shelling on two occasions. 

None of these events gave rise to any radiological consequences, but they highlight the grave risks facing nuclear facilities across Ukraine. Risks that would not exist were it not for Russia’s illegal invasion. 


Once again, we pay tribute to IAEA teams and Ukrainian operating personnel, who continue to work in increasingly challenging circumstances. We are pleased to be providing support to the IAEA’s Medical Assistance programme to help those nuclear professionals in need of additional resilience. 

Thank you.

Published 7 June 2024