Italy is a steadfast partner in the challenges facing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today with a long history of achievements in the nuclear field, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi commented, as he travelled to Rome. During his two-day visit, Grossi met with Italy’s President and Foreign Minister, as well as with Pope Francis. Discussions covered a variety of issues including nuclear safety and security in Ukraine, nuclear non-proliferation, and the role of nuclear science and technology in combating climate change.

Grossi thanked Italian President Sergio Mattarella for Italy’s continuous support to the IAEA and particularly its support for the Agency’s assistance to the Zaporizhia NPP (ZNPP) in Ukraine.

Grossi also praised Italy’s efforts to promote global dialogue. In December the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI) organised the high-level initiative ‘Mediterranean Dialogues’. This engaged prominent leaders of Mediterranean governments, business, civil society, media and academia on common challenges. Grossi described the event as a fascinating discussion on the future of multilateralism and the importance of effective international organisations.

In talks with Italian Deputy Prime Minister & Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, Grossi thanked Italy for its role as the chair of the IAEA’s General Conference. Tajani affirmed his full support for the IAEA’s activities in Ukraine, saying: “Regarding Zaporizhia, we are working to protect Europe from possible damage.” In September, Italy joined Foreign Ministers from Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Switzerland, the UK, Ukraine, the USA, as well as the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in issuing a joint statement of support for establishing a nuclear safety and protection at ZNPP.

Separately, Grossi met with Pope Francis, who is the head of state of the Holy See (Vatican), which is an IAEA member state. He also had talks with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Secretary for Relations with States and International Organisations Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher. Pope Francis reaffirmed his stance on the possession of atomic weapons and the risks they pose. Discussions also covered the potential of nuclear science and technology in addressing the worsening global climate crisis.

The IAEA noted that, over the past five decades, nuclear power has cumulatively avoided the emission of about 70 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide - equivalent to the emissions from the entire global power sector in the five years between 2015 and 2019. It continues to avoid more than 1 Gt CO2 each year.

Image: IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi has met with His Holiness Pope Francis at the Vatican in Rome to discuss a variety of issues including nuclear safety and security in Ukraine (courtesy of Vatican Media)

Date: Wednesday, 18 January 2023
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