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UN chief: Military activity at Ukraine nuclear plant must end

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky told defense leaders at a conference in Copenhagen on Thursday that “Russia could cause the largest radiation accident in history at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.”



CONGRESS OF THE UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon demanded a halt to military operations on Thursday near Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine, citing the potential for “catastrophic consequences” in the event of any damage to the facility.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued the statement ahead of a U.N. Security Council meeting on Thursday afternoon in response to allegations of shelling of the Zaporizhzhia plant by both Russian and Ukrainian officials. Russia called the meeting to discuss what it says were attacks by Ukraine on the plant.

On Monday, August 8, 2022, in Tokyo, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the Japan National Press Club. (Eugene Hoshiko/)

U.N. nuclear chief Rafael Grossi told The Associated Press last week that the situation at the plant is “completely out of control,” and he will soon brief the Security Council on the situation.

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Enrico Grossi, expressed growing concern about the situation in Zaporizhzhia, which is located in the city of Enerhodar that Russian troops seized in early March, following their invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

While the plant is controlled by Russia, its Ukrainian staff continues to run the nuclear operations.

On Thursday, Russian shelling of the plant and nearby buildings was reported again by the Ukrainian state company operating the plant.

“Any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia or any other nuclear facilities in Ukraine, or anywhere else, could lead to catastrophic consequences.” Anxious about the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, @antonioguterres tweets. — Security Council Meeting, United Nations (@UN), August 11, 2022

Russia has repeatedly accused Ukraine of attacking the plant and has urged Western powers to force a stop to Kyiv’s military action.

According to Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, “Shelling of the territory of the nuclear plant by the Ukrainian armed forces is highly dangerous.” Huge swaths of land, perhaps all of Europe, could be wiped out as a result.

U.N. chief Guterres appealed in a statement “for common sense and reason” to avoid any actions “that might endanger the physical integrity, safety or security of the nuclear plant.”

In a speech to defense officials on Thursday at a conference in Copenhagen, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that “Russia could cause the largest radiation accident in the history at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.”

The Russian Defense Ministry Press Service released this handout photo from video on August 7, 2022, showing a broad panorama of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in Russian-occupied southeast Ukraine.

Fears that the largest of Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors could be damaged by the recent Russian capture of Zaporizhzhia have been revived after the 1986 Chernobyl accident, the world’s worst nuclear disaster, occurred about 110 kilometers (65 miles) north of the capital Kyiv.

Essentially the same as the use of nuclear weapons by Russia, but without a nuclear strike, according to Zelensky, a radiation accident in Zaporizhzhia “could be even more catastrophic than Chernobyl.”

“if the Soviet authorities tried to hide the Chernobyl disaster and its full consequences, Russian authorities are much more cynical and dangerous,” the Ukrainian president said. They’re actively working to increase the likelihood of a nuclear disaster while telling the world that someone else is to blame.

Last week, Grossi stated that the IAEA must travel to Zaporizhzhia, just as it did to Chernobyl, to investigate the situation, make necessary repairs and inspections, and “to prevent a nuclear accident from happening.”

Zaporizhzhia’s interim governor, who was installed by the Kremlin, said Thursday that the region’s Russia-backed government was prepared to protect any International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors who might visit.

“We are fully ready to accept the IAEA, we will ensure security,’’ Yevhen Balytskyy said in an interview on Russian state TV. He also mentioned that armored vehicles were ready and waiting for the international envoys by the Kremlin-backed authorities.

Grossi said in a statement Wednesday that he would personally lead an expert mission to inspect the nuclear plant “in the very near future,” without elaborating on the timeline.