The United Nations remains gravely concerned about the dangerous situation in and around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine. “All soldiers and military equipment must leave the plant,” insisted United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo on Tuesday before the Security Council.
The complex must not be used in any military operation under any circumstances, and an agreement on a demilitarized zone around the plant must be reached, she added.
The Zaporizhzhia plant is still operated by its Ukrainian technical staff, but it came under the control of the military forces of the Russian Federation since the beginning of March.
In early August, a worrying escalation of artillery fire around the plant was reported; UN Secretary-General António Guterres then called on all parties concerned to “show common sense and reason”, as well as to refrain from undertaking any action that could endanger the physical integrity, safety or security of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
On August 15, the UN chief discussed the security of the plant during a call with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu; on August 18, during his visit to Lviv, he discussed the situation with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ms. DiCarlo recalled.
Calling again for “immediate, safe and unhindered” access by an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team to the site, Ms. DiCarlo certified that the UN had the necessary logistical capacity in Ukraine. to send a mission to the plant from Kyiv. “On the condition that Ukraine and Russia agree,” repeated the senior UN official.
On August 19, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi renewed his urgent appeal for “maximum military restraint” in the area of the plant, following new tensions.
Describing the situation at the plant as “highly volatile and fragile”, the head of the agency warned that any further escalation around one of the six Zaporizhzhia reactors could lead to a “serious nuclear accident”.
Any potential damage to the Zaporizhzhia NPP, or any other nuclear facility in Ukraine, could lead to a possible nuclear incident, with catastrophic consequences not only for the immediate vicinity of the plant but for the entire region and beyond, said Ms. DiCarlo.