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U.S. Statement – Agenda Item 8 – IAEA Board of Governors Meeting – September 2023
As Prepared for Ambassador Laura S.H. Holgate, Vienna, Austria, September 13, 2023
September 13, 2023

U.S. Statement – As Prepared for Ambassador Laura S.H. Holgate – Agenda Item 8 – Nuclear Safety, Security, and Safeguards in Ukraine

Vienna, Austria, September 13, 2023


The United States thanks the Director General and Secretariat staff for the latest report on the situation in Ukraine and for the Agency’s continued efforts to help reduce the risk of a nuclear incident resulting from President Putin’s decision to continue waging his illegal, unjustifiable, and unprovoked war against Ukraine.  

With its military and other unauthorized operations in Ukraine, Russia continues to defy core principles of nuclear safety, security, and safeguards that underlie the confident use of peaceful nuclear facilities in Ukraine and elsewhere around the world.  As indicated in the Director General’s report, though challenges remain, the Agency is working closely, creatively, and tirelessly with Ukrainian authorities to maintain the stability of all of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants, most notably at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant.   



The Director General’s report continues to emphasize that all Seven Pillars for Nuclear Safety and Security have been, and continue to be, compromised at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant.  It is clear to my delegation that this situation is a direct result of Russia’s actions.  Additionally, this is the first reporting period in which the Agency is reporting on its monitoring observance of the “Five Concrete Principles” for nuclear safety and security at the Zaporizhzhya plant.  The report explicitly outlines how current Russian-led management at the site continues to impede Agency access by requiring at least one-week advance notice for all requests for access to relevant premises at the plant.  Some areas at the plant remained inaccessible to the IAEA for long periods of time.  The United States shares the Director General’s concern over the actions of Russia’s management.  As noted in his report, this arrangement clearly does not allow for prompt observation and assessment of site activities impacting nuclear safety, security, and safeguards when necessary.  This continues to raise serious questions:  what authority do Russian officials have to deny international experts access to a facility that Russia does not own, and what is Russia hiding by denying timely access? 

The report also highlights Russia’s continued armed presence at the site and the observation of directional anti-personnel mines located in a buffer zone under the control of Russia’s military.  While the IAEA assesses these mines would not critically affect the site’s nuclear safety and security systems, the mere presence of explosives at the site represents a safety hazard and is inconsistent with Agency nuclear safety standards. 



Such irresponsible and hazardous actions underscore the essential need for the IAEA’s presence in Ukraine, especially at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant.  The United States fully appreciates the work of the Agency and would like to reiterate our support for the efforts made by Director General Grossi and his brave and determined staff to help address the danger in Ukraine.  Allow me to highlight just some of the Agency’s activities that contribute to reducing the nuclear risks Russia’s actions have created.  

First, we welcome that the IAEA has been able to continue conducting essential safeguards activities at Ukraine’s nuclear facilities and call on the Secretariat to unambiguously report to the Board should Russia delay or impede implementation of Ukraine’s safeguards agreement in any way.  As indicated in the Director General’s latest report, the Agency continues to find “no indication of the diversion of declared nuclear material or any indication that would give rise to a proliferation concern.”  Ukraine’s exemplary nonproliferation record continues despite Russian actions and irrespective of Moscow’s fabrications. 

Second, we welcome the new assistance effort for the safe and secure handling of radioactive sources in Ukraine and look forward to further details on the scope of this mission.  Third, we also take note of both the medical assistance and Kherson Oblast-related assistance and encourage the Secretariat to consult closely with other international organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization to appropriately define the scope of work and find efficiencies in implementation.  Appropriate coordination with relevant international organizations should help with the strain on IAEA resources, as noted in the report. 

We are committed to enabling the Agency’s ability to meet the pressing needs in Ukraine while also continuing to carry out its essential work with other Member States.  We encourage all Member States to continue supporting, where possible and appropriate, the Agency’s needs as it works to fulfill its nuclear safety, security, and safeguards mission in Ukraine. 



We often hear in this room Russian claims to be a champion of nuclear security, to be rescuing the Zaporizhzhya power plant from unsafe actions by others.  This is like an arsonist who wants credit, calling the fire department after setting a fire. 


If Russia wants to show that it is serious about reducing nuclear risks at Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, it should remove its weapons and armed personnel from Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant.  Russia should allow uninterrupted power supply to Ukraine’s nuclear facilities from territory under Ukraine’s control.  Russia should provide a humanitarian corridor to reliably and safely rotate Ukrainian and IAEA personnel.  Russia should reconnect automatic data transmission of all radiation monitoring systems through Ukraine’s already established mechanism.  Russia should refrain from taking any actions that could result in a nuclear or radiological incident, and Russia should remove Rosatom and Rostekhnadzor personnel and return full control of the plant to the competent Ukrainian authorities. 



The United States reaffirms its full support for all three IAEA Board Resolutions and the UN General Assembly resolutions A/RES/ES-11/4, adopted October 12, 2022, and entitled “Territorial integrity of Ukraine: defending the principles of the Charter of the United Nations” and A/RES/ES-11/6, adopted February 23, 2023, and entitled “Principles of the Charter of the United Nations underlying a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine.”  We will never recognize the Russian Federation’s occupation and claimed annexations of the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhya regions of Ukraine, or its earlier occupation of Crimea.  We strongly condemn Russia’s violent actions and control of nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.  My government welcomes and reiterates the importance of the Agency’s commitment to act in accordance with the UN General Assembly resolutions and Board resolution GOV/2022/71, continue to fully respect Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, and refrain from actions that might be interpreted as recognizing any change in the status of sovereign Ukrainian territory. 

With these remarks, the United States takes note of the Director General’s sixth report, GOV/2023/44, on Nuclear Safety, Security, and Safeguards in Ukraine and requests that the report be derestricted.    

Thank you, Chair. 

U.S. Statement – Agenda Item 8 – IAEA Board of Governors Meeting – September 2023