Mon, 02 Oct 2023

Vienna [Austria], August 6 (ANI): The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi on Saturday expressed alarm over shelling at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant.

"I am extremely concerned by the shelling yesterday at 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," said Grossi.

The IAEA has received information about this serious situation - the latest in a long line of increasingly alarming reports from all sides.

According to Ukraine, there has been no damage to the reactors themselves and no radiological release. However, there is damage elsewhere on the site.

"Military action jeopardizing the safety and security of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant is completely unacceptable and must be avoided at all costs," said the IAEA chief.

He said that the Ukrainian staff operating the plant under Russian occupation must be able to carry out their important duties without threats or pressure undermining not only their own safety but also that of the facility itself.

"Any military firepower directed at or from the facility would amount to playing with fire, with potentially catastrophic consequences," said Grossi.

"I strongly and urgently appeal to all parties to exercise the utmost restraint in the vicinity of this important nuclear facility, with its six reactors. And I condemn any violent acts carried out at or near the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant or against its staff," he added.

IAEA said that all have been compromised at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant over the past several months, and yet again, in the last 24 hours, several pillars have been violated.

"In this highly volatile and dangerous situation, it is more important than ever that the seven indispensable safety pillars that I outlined at the beginning of the war, and that I reiterated at the United Nations in New York last Monday, are fully respected in order to maintain nuclear safety and security," added the IAEA chief.

In order to help prevent the situation from spiralling even more out of control, the IAEA's presence to provide technical support for nuclear safety and security is of paramount importance.

"Since the beginning of this tragic war, the IAEA - and I personally - has been working on supporting Ukraine in keeping all its nuclear facilities safe and secure. And for the last four months now, I have been ready to lead a mission of IAEA safety, security and safeguards experts to the country's biggest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhzhya," said Grossi.

IAEA meanwhile reiterated that the mission would play a crucial role in helping to stabilise the nuclear safety and security situation there, as it had done at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant and elsewhere in Ukraine in recent months where the mission has also delivered nuclear safety and security equipment that is urgently needed.

Grossi also said that the IAEA safeguards inspectors would conduct essential verification activities at the plant.

"We would also provide impartial and independent information about the status of the Zaporizhzhya facility. That this vital mission has not yet happened is not because of the IAEA. Despite our determined efforts, it has not been possible, so far. I will not give up. I will continue to push - and push again - for this IAEA mission to finally take place," said Grossi.

He also urged cooperation from both Ukraine and Russia as well as from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

"For the sake of protecting people in Ukraine and elsewhere from a potential nuclear accident, we must all set aside our differences and act, now," he said. (ANI)

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