The head of the United Nations nuclear agency warned on Thursday that the highly alarming military activity at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, located in southeastern Ukraine, could have dangerous consequences for the region and called for an end to military actions in the area.
Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), called on Russia and Ukraine to immediately allow nuclear experts access to assess the damage and safety conditions at the Zaporizhia facility.
Grossi demanded an end to military actions “even those that have the least potential to jeopardize nuclear security in such an important facility.
Hours earlier, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for an end to all military activity near the Zaporizhia plant, warning that any damage could have catastrophic consequences in the immediate vicinity, the region and beyond.
Grossi submitted a virtual report during a UN Security Council meeting called by Russia to discuss what Moscow says were Ukrainian attacks on the plant.
Although the facility is under Russian control, its Ukrainian staff continue daily operations of the plant, which is located in the city of Enerhodar, which was seized by Russian troops in early March, just days after the start of the invasion of Ukraine.
Grossi said that statements received from Russia and Ukraine often contradict each other and that the IAEA cannot corroborate important facts unless its experts visit Zaporizhia.
Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, told the council that kyiv’s criminal attacks on nuclear infrastructure are bringing the planet to the brink of a nuclear catastrophe.
He accused the Ukrainian armed forces of repeated artillery and rocket attacks on the Zaporizhia plant in recent days, including on Thursday itself.
The background radiation at the nuclear power plant at the moment is within limits, but if the attacks continue it is only a matter of time, Nebenzia warned. We call on the states that support the kyiv regime to control their representatives to force them to immediately end the attacks once and for all.
For his part, the Ukrainian ambassador to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya, accused Russia of using elaborate plans of deception, sabotage and cover-up to mount the attacks in Zaporizhia, which poses an unprecedented threat to the nuclear security of Ukraine, Europe and the world as a whole.
Associated Press writer Joanna Kozlowska in London contributed to this report.