IAEA's Grossi holds talks with President Putin in Sochi

06 March 2024

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi has discussed nuclear safety and security at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He also held talks with Rosatom's director general and Russian diplomatic and military representatives.

Putin, left, Grossi, right, with Likhachev (Image: Kremlin.ru)

The Russian President's media service's transcript of the opening of the meeting quotes Putin as saying Russia is an "undisputed leader" in terms of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA): "We do not only operate, but also actively develop, the nuclear energy sector and consider it to be the environmentally-friendly kind of energy. We are doing everything to increase security at nuclear power facilities."

He added: "As you know, we are doing quite a lot of work in this regard in the international arena, and with your help and support we are implementing numerous projects in many countries around the world ... we are ready for further work in all these areas, we are grateful for your reciprocal steps to strengthen our joint work and, of course, we are ready to discuss any issues that you consider relevant. I know that you have particularly sensitive and important issues on the agenda of our meeting today, and we, of course, are ready to discuss them and do everything to ensure security at any point where we are somehow involved to nuclear energy."

He also noted a range of different Russian nuclear energy developments - including small modular reactors, a nuclear fleet and floating nuclear power plants - and said "all of this is in great demand ... and we are ready to share our developments with all our interested partners".

The published transcript of the opening remarks quote Grossi as saying "it's very important for me to be here. We first talked in St Petersburg a year and a half ago ... it seems to me that everything that has happened since then further demonstrates the timeliness of this conversation. I agree, these are very important times, there are challenges, and we will discuss these challenges".

He also posted on the social media platform X, calling it an "important exchange with the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin in Sochi, on the nuclear safety and security of #ZNPP (Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant) and other non-proliferation global challenges".

Russia's state nuclear corporation Rosatom said the first meeting during Grossi's visit took place with Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev, the head of nuclear regulator Rostechnadzor Alexander Trembitsky, the Permanent Representative to the international organisations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov and representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Russian Armed Forces and the National Guard.

A Rosatom statement said: "During the consultations, a wide range of issues was addressed, including those pertaining to prospective tracks of nuclear energy development in Russia and worldwide. The main emphasis of the talks was placed on the issues relating to ensuring nuclear safety and security of the Zaporizhzhia plant ... Alexey Likhachev outlined measures being taken by the Russian side to ensure safe operation ... he also touched upon certain aspects of interaction with the IAEA experts at the plant."

Grossi, second left, started the visit holding talks with Likhachev (third right) (Image: Rosatom)

It said that Grossi had talked about his recent visit to the Zaporizhzhia plant and "the parties confirmed their agreement to continue contacts". Russia's official Tass news agency reported Likhachev as saying after that meeting, that one of the topics likely to be discussed by Grossi and Putin was how "to make it safe but also operating". On Thursday morning Tass said that when it asked if restarting the nuclear plant had been discussed during the meeting, a Kremlin spokesman said: "We are not commenting on the closed-door part of the conversation."

Grossi visited Kiev and met Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky last month, ahead of his most recent visit to the six-unit Zaporizhzhia plant, which is the largest in Europe, and which has been under Russian military control since early March 2022. It is on the frontline of Ukrainian and Russian forces. In a report to the IAEA board of governors earlier this week, Grossi said the safety and security situation at the plant remained precarious.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News