New satellite intelligence report shows Russia uses Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine as military cover

Greenpeace calls for review of IAEA mission at Zaporizhzhia after evidence of failure of Agency to report on Russian violations

Vienna/Kyiv - Remote sensing analysts have identified Russian multiple rocket firing positions as close as 1 km to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine, a report commissioned by Greenpeace Germany shows for the first time. The report, prepared by former UK military specialists at McKenzie Intelligence Services, provides detailed evidence that the Zaporizhizhia nuclear plant is being used strategically and tactically as cover by Russian armed forces in its illegal war against Ukraine.

Based on the findings of the new report, Greenpeace nuclear specialists warn that Russia is in violation of all five safety and security principles of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),(2) which the IAEA has failed to report. Greenpeace Germany has informed the IAEA Board of Governors about these new findings, urging a review of the reporting and effectiveness of the IAEA mission at Zaporizhzhya.  Greenpeace Germany calls on the Board Members to take all measures to increase pressure on Russia, including a more robust IAEA analysis of the reality at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and the implementation of comprehensive sanctions on nuclear trade with the Russian State Nuclear Corporation Rosatom.

Today the IAEA discusses safety issues in Ukraine at their annual conference in Vienna. The Russian armed forces and Rosatom have been in illegal occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine since March 2022. The Planet Labs SkySat imagery that was analyzed by  McKenzie Intelligence covers the period March 2022 to July 2023. 

“The imagery shows that the Russians occupiers are in violation of IAEA principles announced in May by Director General Grossi. Yet the Director General’s reporting is incomplete and misleading, including the assessment of Russian non-compliance with safety and security principles”,  said Shaun Burnie, Greenpeace Germany nuclear specialist.  “The Russian armed forces and Rosatom occupation pose a constant nuclear threat to Zaporozhzhia and must be condemned – but currently the IAEA is unable to fully report on the security and safety hazards they pose. That has to change.” 

The McKenzie analysis details that Russian forces are equipped with vehicles such as the BTR-70 and BTR-80 armored personnel carrier, and Ural and KAMAZ military utility trucks, which are  designed to carry weapons, ammunition and explosives. The IAEA mission team only observes and is prevented by the Russian armed forces from inspecting inside the vehicles, while the IAEA continues to report they have not seen any heavy weapon or explosives.

For the first time, the McKenzie analysts identified multiple GPS firing locations of Russian Rocket Launchers (MLRs), specifically BM-21 ‘Grad’ and BM-30 ‘Smerch’ all within a range of 1 to 18 km from the nuclear plant. McKenzie analysis reports that these military assets are likely based in nearby settlements including the town of Vodyanoye. There is a high probability that Russian forces are using the proximity of the nuclear power plant as a shield to also deter Ukraine counter battery fire on to their firing positions. It is expected that the Russian military operations will be conducted in coordination with the armed forces occupying the Zaporizhzhia reactor site.

Last year IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said in relation to IAEA inspections at Zaporizhzhia, “We are known as the nuclear watchdog. There are areas that were limited. But all the things we needed to see we could see.’(3) The McKenzie reports reveals that this is obviously not correct. The IAEA Director General reporting to the IAEA Board of Governors and regular Communiques are limited in scope, lack serious analysis, and give too much credence to Russian military claims. “The Russian threat to the safety of the nuclear plant is very real and a direct threat to people’s lives and the environment of Ukraine and potentially beyond - we do not need the IAEA painting a false narrative”, says Shaun Burnie. “The IAEA Board has taken a robust position on the Russian attack and occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, but their member governments have failed to apply effective pressure on Russia, including the lack of sanctions against Rosatom and the continued participation by Russia in IAEA nuclear programs.”

Greenpeace Germany is calling on the IAEA Board of Governors to review the scale and scope of the IAEA mission, and to work with member states, and in particular the government of Ukraine and to institute whatever measures that will bring maximum pressure to bear on the Russian armed forces and Rosatom to bring about an early end to the military occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. The safety and security threat to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant will only end when Russian armed forces and Rosatom have left the plant and Ukraine, there is an end to the Russian war against Ukraine and a just peace.

Greenpeace McKenzie Report Zaporizhzhia

Greenpeace Assessment IAEA at Zaporizhzhia


Lucia Sumegova - partnership coordinator - 

Polina Kolodiazhna - partnership coordinator - 

Daryna Rogachuk- communication officer -
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