Sierra Leone Statement at the UN Security Council – Under The Agenda: “Threats To International Peace And Security: On The Safety And Security Of The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP)” in Ukraine

Madam President,

I thank you for convening this meeting, and let me also thank Mr. Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency for his important briefing.

I also acknowledge the presence of the Permanent Representative of Ukraine in this meeting.

In Sierra Leone’s statement in this Council on this agenda item, on 22nd January 2024, we made the important point that one of the main areas of focus in the Ukraine conflict should be avoiding a nuclear catastrophe.

We therefore acknowledge the critical importance of this briefing focused on reported drone attacks on 7 April 2024 on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) in the city of Enerhodar in Ukraine, as this poses a serious threat to international peace and security.

We are seriously concerned by all attacks around nuclear power plants in the whole of Ukraine, including the reported 7th April (2024) drone attacks surrounding the ZNPP.  We call for a thorough and impartial investigation into the incidents at the ZNPP, with full cooperation by all parties involved. It is imperative to establish the facts surrounding these incidents to put to an end to any future similar attacks.

Sierra Leone calls on all stakeholders to exercise maximum restraint and engage in constructive dialogue to de-escalate tensions and prevent further incidents that could jeopardize the safety of the ZNPP, its personnel, and surrounding environment. We urge the parties to prioritize safety and the required protections in accordance with international standards and principles. Sierra Leone calls on all Council members to support efforts aimed at ensuring the protection of nuclear facilities in Ukraine.

In this regard Sierra Leone underscores the importance of upholding the seven pillarsoutlined by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for ensuring nuclear safety and security in armed conflicts, which include physical integrity and reliable external power. We further call on the parties to the conflict to adhere to the five principles outlined by the Head of the IAEA. 

[The five principles are 1/ No attack from or against the plant. 2/ No use of the plant as a storage or as a base for heavy weapons or Military personnel. 3/ No placement of offsite power at risk. 4/ The protection of all essential structures, systems components from attacks or sabotage and finally. 5/ No action which undermines these principles.]

We recall that five of the plant’s six nuclear reactors have been in cold shutdown since September 2022, and a significant amount of radioactive material remains at the ZNPP. These fragile and dangerous conditions at the ZNPP pose a significant risk to nuclear safety and security, which could have far-reaching consequences for the region and beyond if attacked. The potential consequences of any conflict near a nuclear power plant are grave and must be avoided at all costs. Therefore, the recent developments underscores the urgent need for concerted international efforts to mitigate these risks and ensure the protection of the vital nuclear infrastructure. 

Sierra Leone supports the efforts of the IAEA in assessing and mitigating the risks at the ZNPP and encourages continued international cooperation to address the challenges at hand. In this regard it is imperative that all parties involved demonstrate utmost caution and responsibility in safeguarding the plant and its surrounding areas. 

Madam President,

Sierra Leone underscores the crucial role of the IAEA in addressing nuclear safety and security challenges, and we commend Director-General Grossi and his Team for their unwavering commitment to their mandate and work. We urge all parties to cooperate fully with the IAEA to prevent any further escalation of risks at the ZNPP. 

Additionally in light of the recent incidents at the ZNPP, it is essential for the Security Council to maintain a unified stance on the imperative of upholding nuclear safety and security standards.

In conclusion, Madam President, Sierra Leone stands ready to engage constructively with all stakeholders to address the challenges facing the ZNPP and to support any initiatives aimed upholding the principles of nuclear safety and security, promoting stability, transparency, and cooperation in addressing this critical issue for the benefit of all.

I thank you.

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