Delivered by H.E. Ambassador Mohamed Abushahab, Deputy Permanent Representative and Chargé d’Affaires, a.i.
I would like to thank Director General Grossi for his valuable briefing.
The United Arab Emirates is deeply alarmed by recent events at and near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, including the reported damage to critical infrastructure, the external power supply system, and radiation sensors. These developments illustrate the disastrous ramifications of the ongoing conflict, not just for Ukraine, but for the wider region and the world. When it comes to nuclear matters, our collective security is truly intertwined. A miscalculation, a mistake, a reckless act, could result in a humanitarian and environmental catastrophe that would affect millions of lives.
In this context, it is crucial that the IAEA has full, unimpeded access to the site in order to assess the damage and ascertain the safety of the facility. We support the seven pillars of nuclear safety and security outlined by the Director General Grossi at the beginning of March and remind parties of their importance in maintaining the safe operation of the Zaporizhzhia plant and other facilities that may be caught up in the conflict. We further recall the special protections for nuclear power facilities under international law, including Article 56 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, which makes clear that “works or installations containing dangerous forces” including “nuclear generating stations, shall not be made the object of attack, even where these objects are military objectives”. These facilities are protected under international law for a reason. Not only are they critical civilian infrastructure, but there are also immense risks to human life when nuclear facilities become vulnerable due to conflict. Ensuring the safety of nuclear facilities is therefore of the utmost importance and is a critical issue for the UAE.
With the agreement on agricultural exports, we witnessed the potential for positive developments when backed by active and involved diplomacy and broad international support. The high stakes of nuclear safety and security, and the international community’s manifest concern, should therefore make this a focus of constructive and necessary engagement between the parties. These efforts can in turn pave the path for a broader settlement that ends this devastating conflict.
We, therefore, reiterate the need for ongoing dialogue to bring the conflict to a peaceful, sustainable resolution in a way that is consistent with the UN Charter and international law. We reemphasize the importance of achieving a cessation of hostilities throughout Ukraine. The alarming developments at Zaporizhzhia underline the urgency of finding a diplomatic end to this conflict, which continues to cause a staggering humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Despite the difficulties facing this Council, we must work towards fulfilling its mandate and take incremental and pragmatic steps to prevent further suffering.
Thank you, Mr. President.