Australian Embassy and Permanent Mission to the United Nations
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Agenda Item 7: Nuclear safety, security and safeguards in Ukraine

IAEA Board of Governors

Agenda Item 7: Nuclear safety, security and safeguards in Ukraine

9 March 2023

Statement by H.E Mr Richard Sadleir, Governor and Resident Representative of Australia to the IAEA


We are pleased to be a signatory to the joint statement led by Canada and Finland, and offer the following remarks in our national capacity.

It has been more than one year since the Russian Federation launched its illegal, unjust and unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine. And – of particular relevance to this Board – it has been more than one year since Russia took forceful control of a Ukrainian nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, at Zaporizhzhia.

Australia continues to stand with Ukraine and we were proud to join 140 other UN Member States to vote in favour of the 23 February General Assembly resolution calling for a just peace in Ukraine.

Australia condemns unequivocally Russia’s actions – they are an unacceptable threat to the system of rules and norms that the international community has worked hard to develop and uphold. I reiterate today the call of my Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister for Russia to immediately and unconditionally withdraw from Ukrainian territory.

We thank the Director General for his detailed report on nuclear safety, security and safeguards in Ukraine. The Director General’s analysis of the situation at Zaporizhzhia is alarming, particularly his findings that there are major impacts on all seven indispensable pillars for ensuring nuclear safety and security during an armed conflict. We are deeply concerned by the unclear chain of command and by the ‘high and relentless stress’ under which Ukrainian staff at the plant are working. These conditions present an unacceptable and unnecessary risk to nuclear safety and security at the facility.

We commend the Director General for the significant efforts made during the reporting period in pursuit of a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the Zaporizhzhia plant.  We continue to support the Director General’s exemplary work, while recognising that the most effective protection involves returning control of the plant to Ukraine and Russia’s complete withdrawal.

We note with grave concern that Russia’s aggression continues to impact Zaporizhzhia and other nuclear facilities in Ukraine. Russian attacks on Ukraine’s power infrastructure clearly jeopardise the safe and secure operation of nuclear power plants in Ukraine. This again has been alarmingly underscored by the fact that, as we have all heard today, that Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is once again operating on emergency diesel generators following Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure overnight.

In this context, we welcome the establishment of a continuous IAEA presence at all nuclear power plants in Ukraine and acknowledge the very challenging conditions that IAEA staff are operating under, particularly at Zaporizhzhia. We commend IAEA staff for their impartiality and professionalism, which has helped to dispel blatant disinformation, such as Russia’s claim that Ukraine was plotting to detonate a ‘dirty bomb’. We agree with the Director General that the IAEA presence is vital to help reduce the very real dangers the country – and the region – are facing as a result of Russia’s illegal invasion.

Australia is proud to have contributed both equipment and extrabudgetary assistance to Ukraine through the IAEA. We continue to work in our national capacity to ensure it is not business-as-usual for Russia, including through targeted sanctions. We will support Ukraine for as long as it takes.

With these comments, we note and commend the Director General’s report, GOV/2023/10.