IAEA chief: “I see an increased presence of Russian uranium enrichment capabilities in the world”

11:29 22.02.2024 •

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi (photo) gave an interview for Reuters.

Grossi said he saw a decrease in military operations around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe.

Fears of a serious nuclear incident were high when Russian forces took over the facility in 2022 and again following the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam last year.

"There hasn't been a militarization, any deployment of heavy artillery," he said, adding that nearby combat zones and recurring blackouts remained a worry.

"The minimum staff required to look after the plant in the current situation is there," he said.

The EU has so far held back on sanctioning Russia's state-owned nuclear firm Rosatom or any of its subsidiaries despite numerous calls to target that industry. Europe still relies heavily on Rosatom which supplies nearly 50% of the world's enriched uranium.

"Many companies in the West depend on Russian supplies - enriched uranium or fuel... The consensus is sanctioning Rosatom would not be realistic and it's impractical. It would put the nuclear industry at a standstill in many countries," Grossi said.

Reducing dependence on Russia's nuclear sector would cost Europe billions, Grossi said, and he saw no immediate shift away. He added that the larger issue was infrastructure and incentives, and projections of rising uranium demand globally.

"Frankly, I see an increased presence of Russian uranium enrichment capabilities in the world rather than a decrease," he said.


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