I, Nikolai Steinberg have dedicated my life to nuclear energy. I was a chief engineer of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant from May 1986 to March 1987. I know what a nuclear catastrophe is not from textbooks, not from newspaper articles, not from politicians’ statements. I know what it means to children and adults, to relatives and friends, to those who are close to the epicenter and to those who are thousands of kilometers away. I know how a peaceful atom kills friends. I know what forces and how many lives it takes to fight a peaceful atom that is out of control.
I devoted ten years to the formation of nuclear safety regulatory regime in the former USSR, and then in Ukraine. In 1994 – 1995, I was a member of the IAEA Board of Governors from Ukraine.
On March 4, 2022, Russian tanks fired at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant. Even earlier, Russian troops captured the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Later the Russian army fired on a nuclear installation in the center of the city of Kharkov, which has a population of more than 1 million people.
I have addressed you and other of international and national organizations that are in one way or another involved in the use of nuclear or the regulation of nuclear safety, hoping to draw your attention to the problem of the destruction of the international nuclear safety regime. Уour soothing reaction struck.
Apparently, employment with current affairs and the fight against warming does not leave you time to be interested in nuclear safety issues, which can lead to the destruction of life even before the temperature of the atmosphere rises by 1-20C. Therefore, I have to write an open letter.
Of course, neither I nor other veterans of nuclear power could imagine that Russia, one of the states – permanent members of the UN Security Council, will be headed by another Führer, an outright criminal, and that it will be attacking a nuclear power plant accompanied by stormy ovation of his slaves. How could we have imagined that in the crowd of these slaves there will be the heirs of those who once created the world’s first nuclear power plant? Of course not, but it happened. Is it really not clear, that in this situation it is necessary to act, and not to mumble something about the appeasement of those who have long stepped over the permissible limits?
It is well known, that national regulators have the power to secure nuclear facilities in their country and to protect their citizens from events abroad, without being able to influence those events. Other organizations, WANO and OECD/NEA only act if invited by nuclear operators or governments. Only IAEA has the right to intervene and “take control”, but as a UN body, it can only do so with a mandate from the Security Council.
Did you call the aggressor the aggressor?
Did you insist that the UN Security Council be convened in connection with the global threat to nuclear safety and security?
Did you immediately try to send IAEA missions to the Ukrainian nuclear facilities, which would at least provide a defense mechanism, since then any attack on the nuclear facilities would be an attack on the UN personnel? It was at least some specific step in support of nuclear safety.
How long ago did you and your staff read the IAEA Statute? Do you remember the goals, functions and tasks of the IAEA?
In your opinion, who today can be responsible for guarantees of non-proliferation of nuclear materials at the Zaporizhzhya and Chernobyl nuclear power plants seized by the Russian troops?
In your opinion, can the personnel of the Zaporozhye and Chernobyl nuclear power plants ensure the safety of the facilities entrusted to them under the threat of the aggressor’s tanks and guns?
By the way, did you know that the safety reports, on the basis of which, licenses for the operation of nuclear facilities are issued do not contain the limits and conditions of safety in war conditions?
Do you know that the nuclear safety standards issued by the IAEA do not contain recommendations justifying nuclear safety in the context of hostilities? The standards also do not contain recommendations for emergency preparedness in case of war.
Do you think there is a nuclear safety culture in a country that has dozens of nuclear installations and allows itself to attack nuclear power plants, spent nuclear fuel storage facilities and personnel training centers in another country?
Does the Agency you lead have a culture of safety that is afraid to speak openly about what is happening today, that the world is once again on the brink of a nuclear catastrophe?
What kind of safety culture can we talk about if, with their tails between their legs, the leaders of the world nuclear community are afraid to say aloud the names of the criminals including professionals who have taken the world hostage?
The attack on Ukraine nuclear facilities by Russian troops dealt a terrible blow to the international nuclear safety & security and non-proliferation regime. The reaction of the IAEA may well be perceived as “everything and everyone is permitted”. Have you, the Director General of the IAEA, still not understood this?
I would very much like to hope that the Agency finally realize the essence of the event, call everything by its right name and take measures that will make it possible to save and improve the nuclear safety rtgime and save the World from a nuclear catastrophe.
Time doesn’t wait.