STORY: With ongoing shelling near Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant sparking widespread concern of a pending disaster, the UN nuclear watchdog on Tuesday called for the fighting to stop and for a security zone to be established at the plant, located in Russian-controlled territory along the frontline of its war with Ukraine.
“We are playing with fire and something very, very catastrophic could take place.”
The Zaporozhzhia nuclear plant, seized by Russia shortly after its invasion of Ukraine, is controlled by Russian forces but run by Ukrainian technicians. Russia and Ukraine each accuse the other of shelling.
Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, spoke at the United Nations on Tuesday following a report by the IAEA that called the situation “unsustainable.”
He and other IAEA inspectors braved shelling to cross the front line and reach the power station last week.
“The hits that this facility has received and that I could personally see and assess, together with my experts, is simply unacceptable.”
Grossi said a security zone should be established immediately around the plant – something also urged by United Nations chief Antonio Guterres.
“An agreement on a demilitarized perimeter should be secured. Specifically, that would include a commitment by Russian forces to withdraw all military personnel and equipment from that perimeter and a commitment by Ukrainian forces not to move into it.”
Inspectors said they had found Russian troops and equipment at the plant, including military vehicles parked in turbine halls. Moscow has denied accusations that it used the plant as a shield for its forces, but says it has troops guarding it.
The U.S. on Tuesday charged that Russia is in the process of buying millions of artillery shells and rockets from old Cold-War ally North Korea… and said this showed Moscow is suffering severe supply shortages in its war in Ukraine.