The UN nuclear watchdog has called for the immediate cessation of all military actions near Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant after it was hit by shelling, which shut down one of its reactors and placed a “very real risk of nuclear disaster”.
Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he was “extremely concerned” about reports of damage at the plant and called on IAEA experts to inspect the damage.
“I am extremely concerned about yesterday’s shelling of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which underlines the very real risk of a nuclear disaster that could threaten public health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond,” he said.
Ukrainian nuclear power company Energoatom said the attack damaged a power cable and forced one of its reactors to stop working, and that “there are still risks of leaking hydrogen and radioactive materials, and the risk of fire is also high.” . The shelling “has created a serious risk to the safe operation of the factory,” Grossi said.
“Military action that endangers the safety and security of the nuclear power plant is completely unacceptable and should be avoided at all costs. Any military firepower directed at or from the facility would be tantamount to playing with fire, with potentially catastrophic consequences.
Kiev accuses Russian troops of stockpiling heavy weapons at the factory, which they seized in March and are still occupying. Moscow, in turn, has accused Ukrainian troops of being the target.
Grossi called for an IAEA team of safety, security and security experts, led by himself, to visit the plant.
The EU criticized Russia for “military activity” around the factory. “The EU condemns Russia’s military activities around the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant,” said Josep Borrell, EU Foreign Affairs chief. “This is a serious and irresponsible violation of nuclear safety rules and another example of Russia’s disregard for international standards.”