In this Russian Foreign Ministry handout photo, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (right) meets with IAEA chief Rafael Grossi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to discuss security issues at Ukraine’s nuclear facilities – Copyright AFP OLGA MALTSEVA
On Wednesday, the UN Nuclear Service and Western powers raised concerns about the safety of Ukraine’s Zaporozhye nuclear power plant as Kyiv accused Russia of more shelling.
As a result of the strike by Russian “terrorists”, the power line at the facility was damaged, which led to the short-term launch of emergency generators, the Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom reported on Telegram.
But it says radiation levels remain normal.
Rafael Grossi, director of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), again warned of “playing with fire” at nuclear power plants.
“The situation is still getting worse and we can’t wait for something unfortunate to happen,” Grossi said at United Nations headquarters in New York.
“I have proposed technical parameters to provide the necessary protection for this installation,” he told reporters after meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Grossi said he met in New York on Wednesday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and later spoke with top Ukrainian diplomat Dmytro Kuleba.
But he acknowledged the lack of progress on his recommendation for a safety zone around the plant.
“Demilitarization is the goal, but now it’s about protecting the plant,” Grossi said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned in a video address to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had made the Zaporozhye plant “a target,” which he said should cause deep concern around the world.
“Russian radiation blackmail is something that should worry each of you, because none of you will find a vaccine for radiation sickness,” he said.
In a joint statement, senior diplomats from powers including the US, France, Britain and Germany said they had “serious concerns” about Ukraine’s nuclear facilities.
They outlined seven “indispensable pillars” of nuclear safety, including that safety and security systems “remain fully functional at all times”.
Energoatom called for “more decisive action” against Russia, saying that they “are not stopped even by the presence of IAEA inspectors.”
Europe’s largest nuclear facility was seized by Russian forces in March, and shelling around it sparked calls from Kyiv and its Western allies to demilitarize areas around nuclear plants in Ukraine.
At the beginning of the war around Chernobyl, fighting was fought in the north, where, as a result of an explosion in 1986, part of the adjacent territory was contaminated.
Putin warned of the “catastrophic” consequences of fighting there, leading Ukraine to accuse Moscow of using Zaporozhye’s security as blackmail.
On Monday, Russia was accused of bombing a third nuclear power plant in Yuzhnoukrainsk in the south of the Mykolaiv region.