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Head of IAEA on Situation at Zaporizhzhia NPP: This Nuclear Power Plant Is on the Frontline of War, Anything Can Happen at Any Moment

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Photo: Head of IAEA on Situation at Zaporizhzhia NPP: This Nuclear Power Plant Is on the Frontline of War, Anything Can Happen at Any Moment. Source: twitter.com/rafaelmgrossi
Photo: Head of IAEA on Situation at Zaporizhzhia NPP: This Nuclear Power Plant Is on the Frontline of War, Anything Can Happen at Any Moment. Source: twitter.com/rafaelmgrossi

The first-ever Nuclear Energy Summit has opened in Brussels today, bringing together more than 30 European countries, as well as the United States, China and Brazil. Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), spoke to DW about the increasingly important role of nuclear energy in the world and Europe and the risks of Russia's war in Ukraine, including the occupation of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe.

"We should never, ever forget that this nuclear power plant is on the front line of a war," said the IAEA Director General. "This means that anything can happen at any time."

However, he stressed that some of the basic principles introduced by the UN Security Council last year have managed to prevent the worst from happening.

"It worked, of course, there were moments when there were power outages, which is also a very dangerous event," he said. There were also some instances of drone use and "some kinetic strikes" on site, but these "did not jeopardise the safety of the plant," Grossi added.

He added that Russia was not only a major supplier of gas and oil to Europe, but also a key supplier of fuel for nuclear power plants. Grossi said that the United States and some Western European countries are trying to develop their own nuclear fuel, but it will still take some time to move away from dependence on Russia.

"At the moment, we have a market structure that recognises a special place, perhaps a larger part of the market, for a Russian supplier," he said. "We see this from the IAEA's point of view as a technical issue."

With 100 reactors currently operating in 12 European countries, nuclear power accounts for about a quarter of the EU's electricity and almost half of its carbon-free energy.

About 60 reactors are at various stages of planning or construction, one third of them in Poland.

In Ukraine, after the closure of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, there are currently four nuclear power plants in operation: Rivne Nuclear Power Plant (4 units), South Ukrainian Nuclear Power Plant (3 units), Khmelnytsky Nuclear Power Plant (2 units) and Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (6 units). The latter has been occupied and mined by the Russian military since March 2022 and is not under the control of Ukraine.


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