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The IAEA warns of a ‘nuclear disaster’ from the shelling of the Zaporizhzhia reactor





The United Nations nuclear chief warned of a possible nuclear disaster after the bombing of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, once again urging Russia and Ukraine to allow a mission of experts access to the facility to help secure it.

The shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine highlights the potential for catastrophic consequences from attacks on and near the facility, Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said in a report. declaration on Saturday.

Military action that endangers the safety and security of the Zaporizhzya nuclear power plant is completely unacceptable and must be avoided at all costs, Grossis’ statement said.

After the bombings on Friday, Russia and Ukraine blamed each other for the attack. The facility, near the front lines of the fighting, has been under Russian control since March, but is still staffed by Ukrainians.

In his night address On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pointed to the bombings in Zaporizhzhia as another reason Russia should be recognized as a state sponsor of terrorism, which he has repeatedly called for.

Zelensky also argued for sanctions against Russia’s nuclear industry.

This is simply a matter of safety, he said. He who creates nuclear threats to other nations is definitely not capable of using nuclear technologies safely.

In turn, the Russian defense ministry has blamed Ukraine for the attack, stating that protection by Russian-backed forces was the reason the plant was not more extensively damaged. Shelling damaged two power lines and a water pipeline, leaving more than 10,000 residents without water and electricity, the defense ministry said in a statement.

Russia first seized the facility after one of its projectiles sparked a fire at the plant complex, sparking concerns about the safety of Ukraine’s four nuclear sites that have persisted in the months since.

Ukrainian staff operating the plant under Russian occupation must be able to perform their important duties without threats or pressures that compromise not only their safety but also that of the facility itself, Grossi said in his statement.

The American Nuclear Society (ANS) backed Grossi’s calls to halt attacks on the facility and send a mission there, condemning the bombing in a statement on Saturday.

It is unjustifiable for a civilian nuclear facility to be used as a military base or targeted in a military operation, said the organization’s president, Steven Arndt, and chief executive, Craig Piercy.

The shelling on Friday did not damage any of Zaporizhzhia’s six reactors or release radioactive material into the environment, according to Grossi, but the plant suffered damage elsewhere.

He added that an IAEA mission to the nuclear power plant would allow inspectors to assess it and gather information independent of reports from Ukraine and Russia.

But the situation around Zaporizhzhia is likely to grow more, not less dangerous, according to the British Ministry of Defence, because the fiercest fighting is shifting in the direction of the power plants.

The IAEA has been working for months to ensure the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear sites. In April, Gross led a mission to the country’s Chernobyl plant, the site of one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters in 1986, after Russian-backed forces withdrew from it in March.

He led a follow-up mission to the country in early June, with experts assessing its status and providing training on radiation monitoring equipment. A similar mission in Zaporizhzhia, Grossi said, is crucial for its security.

But this will need cooperation, understanding and facilitation from Ukraine and Russia, he said, adding that UN Secretary-General Antnio Guterres supported the agencies’ plan.

Grossi was in New York on Monday for the 10th Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference. In his keynote address, he discussed the IAEA seven pillars of nuclear safety and security, which include the physical integrity of facilities, reliable communication with regulators, and the ability of staff to work safely.

Those pillars, Grossi said in his statement, had been trampled in Zaporizhzhia during Friday’s bombings and in the months since the Russian occupation.

We cannot afford to waste any more time, he said. For the sake of protecting people in Ukraine and elsewhere from a possible nuclear accident, we must all put aside our differences and act now.




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