UN nuclear watchdog warns of ‘grave hour’ amid fresh shelling of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia plant

The United Nations The nuclear watchdog has urged officials to visit Ukraine’s Zaporizhia power plant as soon as possible.

“This is a critical time, critical time and the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] Zaporizhia should be allowed to conduct its mission as soon as possible,” the agency’s head, Rafael Grossi, told an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Thursday night.

Ukraine’s state-owned company, Energoatom, which operates the plant, said there were five clashes in the area on Thursday, including the site where the radioactive material is stored.

“Five [hits] Recorded near the office of plant management – near the welding site and the storage facility of radiation sources,” said Enerhotom. Post on his official Telegram channel. “There was a grass fire in a small area, but luckily no one was hurt.”

The claims come a day after Ukraine accused Russia of firing rockets around a nuclear power plant it seized. At least 13 people were killed and 10 wounded, with the knowledge that firing back at Ukraine would be dangerous.

A top UN official called for an immediate end to all military activity around the Zaporizhia plant and warned that further “very alarming” incidents – if they continue – could lead to disaster.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “I am calling for an immediate halt to all military operations in the immediate vicinity of the plant and not to target the facility or its surroundings.” statement Next to the meeting.

Guterres warned that any potential damage to the Zaporizhia plant “could lead to devastating consequences not only for the immediate area, but for the region and beyond”.

Grossi said he was ready to lead an expert mission to inspect the site in south-eastern Ukraine and invited them. Russia And Ukraine will cooperate so that officials can travel as soon as possible.

“Time is of the essence,” he told the 15-member Security Council Video feedAdding that the agency could work urgently on safety and provide a stabilizing influence “to prevent nuclear accidents from occurring.”

“The IAEA has been ready to carry out such a mission since we were ready to go,” Grossi told the council, adding that all military operations around the plant must cease.

A house is destroyed after gunfire in the Zaporizhia region of Ukraine. Photo: Future Publishing/Ukrainform/Getty Images

Zaporizhia, located in the city of Enrhodar, which was captured by Russian forces in early March, has been the scene of escalating clashes between Ukrainian and Russian forces.

Russia controls the plant but its Ukrainian technicians run the nuclear operations.

The recent escalation in fighting around the nuclear facility has drawn blame from both sides.

Petro Kotin, head of Energoatom, warned earlier in the week Risk of shelling highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel containers. If two or more containers are broken, the resulting disaster is “impossible to predict”.

“Such crazy actions can get the situation out of control and it will be Fukushima or Kornobil,” he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of resorting to “preemptive nuclear blackmail” in his latest national address on Thursday evening..

“No one else has used a nuclear plant to threaten the whole world and impose certain conditions,” he said. “Only the complete withdrawal of the Russians from the territory of the Zaporizhia NPP and the restoration of Ukraine’s full control over the situation surrounding the plant will guarantee the restoration of nuclear safety for all. Europe.”

Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, said on Thursday that the world was being “pushed to the brink of a nuclear disaster comparable to Chernobyl” but placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of Ukraine.

The US State Department’s Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security, Bonnie Jenkins, supported the idea of ​​an IAEA mission in Ukraine. “Can’t wait any longer for this meeting,” she told the Security Council, adding that the only way to ensure nuclear security is to end Moscow’s war.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Source link

Leave a Comment