Will the IAEA Mission Stop Putin’s Nuclear Blackmail?

Against the backdrop of continued shelling of the Zaporizhzhia NPP by the Russian army, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission led by Director General Raphael Grossi arrived in Kyiv on 30 August. The mission consists of 14 members of the official delegation. On 31 August, it became known that the mission left for Zaporizhzhia NPP: IAEA experts will arrive in Energodar as early as this week.

According to Grossi, the inspectors must assess the physical damage to ZNPP as a result of military operations, determine the operability of the safety and security systems of the strategically important facility. IAEA specialists will also need to assess the working conditions of the plant personnel and take urgent measures to ensure the safety of ZNPP. Preventing a repeat of the Chernobyl disaster is the main task for the IAEA.

At the moment, the situation around the ZNPP can be described as very alarming. Since 5 August Russian troops began systematic shelling of the Zaporizhzhya NPP vicinity using heavy artillery and MLRS, with some of the projectiles coming dangerously close to the reactors. Russian officialdom and propaganda consistently accuse the Ukrainian Armed Forces of such shelling. In July and early August, the Russian offensive in southeastern Ukraine slowed significantly. In some parts of the front, the Ukrainian Armed Forces launched a counteroffensive, liberating Russian-occupied settlements. In this context, the Russian Federation has intensified nuclear blackmail aimed at Europe, artificially creating the risk of a man-made disaster at the ZNPP by constant shelling. Russian curators want to disconnect ZNPP generators from Ukraine’s power system, followed by a complete shutdown of the power plant. Thus, the occupiers want to connect the power plant to the Russian energy system, sending power lines to Crimea.

The Kremlin is creating an unprecedented radiation threat to Europe: in the event of a complete shutdown of the power plant and attempts to further operate it using the technical base of the Russian Federation, unpredictable situations are possible, because if the generators of ZNPP are disconnected from the Ukrainian power system, they cannot be used for their own fuel cooling needs if the power plant is completely de-energized. Millions of people will be left without electricity, businesses, schools, universities, medical institutions will be shut down, there will be no communication, thousands of people’s lives will be threatened. This could be the greatest, artificially created man-made challenge in the history of mankind.

Russia is consciously blackmailing the entire civilised world with a possible radiation disaster at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, destroying step by step the possibilities of protection against the ZNPP radiation accident. This is conscious nuclear terrorism used for political purposes. Powerless on the front, Putin is willing to kill millions of people for pursuit of his geopolitical agenda. Humanity must stop the biggest war criminal of the 21st century before the irreparable happens. In this sense, the IAEA visit s highly relevant to nuclear safety not only in Ukraine, but also in Europe.

James Wilson