Russian journalist Safronov sentenced for another blow to press freedom
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said the current situation at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya power plant is “untenable” and that there is “an urgent need for interim measures” to avoid a nuclear accident.
Live briefing: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
RFE/RL Live briefing gives you all the latest developments on the ongoing invasion of Russia, how Kyiv is fighting back, Western military aid, the global response and the plight of civilians. For all of RFE/RL’s coverage of the war, click here.
“We are playing with fire, and something very, very catastrophic could happen,” IAEA chief Rafael Grossi warned Sept. 6, addressing the UN Security Council hours after the UN’s atomic watchdog has issued a report on the situation in Ukraine. nuclear center.
The report urged Russia and Ukraine to establish a “nuclear safety and security protection zone” around the plant and said shelling on the site and its surroundings should cease immediately to prevent any further damage to the installation and to the safety of its operating personnel.
The IAEA has published the report following a recent visit by UN inspectors to the factory, which has been taken over by the Russian military but is operated by Ukrainian technicians. He said the best action to ensure the safety of the plant and all other Ukrainian nuclear facilities “would be for this armed conflict to end now”.
The IAEA has said it is ready to “immediately” begin consultations leading to the “urgent establishment” of a safety zone at Zaporizhzhya, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has urged Russia and Ukraine to agree to establish a safe zone.
“As a first step, Russian and Ukrainian forces must pledge not to engage in any military activity towards the plant site or from the plant site,” Guterres told the UN Security Council. ‘UN.
“As a second step, an agreement on a demilitarized perimeter should be reached. Specifically, this would include a commitment by Russian forces to withdraw all military personnel and equipment from this perimeter and a commitment by Ukrainian forces not to enter it. “, he added. says the 15-member body.
Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya told the Security Council that Russia regretted that the report did not accuse Kyiv of bombing the site.
“We regret that in your report… the source of the bombardment is not directly named,” Nebenzya said. “We understand your position as an international regulator, but in the current situation it is very important to call things by their name,” he said.
Senior US diplomat Jeffrey DeLaurentis responded by saying that despite Russia’s “songs and dances” to avoid acknowledging responsibility for its actions, it had “no right to expose the world to unnecessary risk and the possibility of a nuclear catastrophe”.
Nebenzya, later asked about the creation of a demilitarized zone, said the proposal “is not serious” and said the Ukrainians will “intervene immediately and ruin everything”.
He claimed that the Russians at the factory were defending her.
“It’s actually not militarized. There’s no equipment at the station,” he said.
But IAEA inspectors observed Russian military personnel, vehicles and equipment at various locations at the Zaporizhzhya plant, the report said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy commented on the IAEA report in his overnight address, praising its “clear references” to the presence of Russian troops and military equipment at the plant.
Referring to the report’s proposal for a safe zone, Zelenskiy said that if it aims to demilitarize the power plant and its surroundings, Ukraine can support it.
The report says the situation is unprecedented as it is the first time a military conflict has occurred at the facilities of a major nuclear energy program.
Shelling continued around the plant on September 6, a day after it was again cut off from Ukraine’s power grid and left to operate its security systems.
The report also lists damage to parts of the plant and recommends improvements in conditions for Ukrainian personnel operating the facility, saying they are “under constant high stress and pressure” which “could lead to an increase in human error with implications for nuclear safety”.