UN inspectors demand security zone around nuclear plant

attributed to him…Jim Hoylebrook for The New York Times

The bombing of a nuclear plant in Ukraine worries international monitors who believe a security protection zone should be established immediately, the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report on Tuesday after inspectors visited the besieged Zaporizhia facility.

But experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency said the fighting did not lead to a nuclear emergency at the plant in southern Ukraine, which has become one of the critical flashpoints in the war since the Russian invasion in February.

Monitors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, including the agency’s director general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, visited the facility last week amid continued bombardment of the area that at one point forced them to take cover. in report on resultsThe agency said that the bombing should “stop immediately” and that it was ready to start consultations with the two sides in the security conflict at the plant, which is the largest in Europe.

For weeks, fighting around the large facility – which was captured by Russian forces in March but operated by Ukrainian engineers – has raised fears of a nuclear accident. A dry spent fuel storage facility was damaged last month, and in recent days, a fire broke out and the station’s external power was lost. Monday’s renewed bombardment sparked a fire that once again disconnected the plant from Ukraine’s national power grid, which Ukraine’s energy minister said put vital cooling systems at risk of relying solely on emergency backup power.

“Although the ongoing bombing has not yet caused a nuclear emergency, it remains an ongoing threat to nuclear safety and security with a potential impact on critical safety functions that could lead to radiological consequences of significant safety importance,” the report said.

Observers reported seeing Russian military equipment parked inside buildings, damage to facilities that posed a risk to workers, and restrictions on Ukrainian plant operators access to certain parts of the facility, including factory coolers.

The Russian military also occupied the on-site emergency position at the plant, the inspectors said, adding that the alternate location for the use of plant workers “did not provide for the implementation of all response functions as needed.”

Russia’s permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, said Mr Grossi “did not provide specific details” about the proposed security protection zone, according to RIA Novosti, Russia’s state news agency. Mr. Ulyanov said Moscow would wait for Mr. Grossi to explain his approach before taking any steps.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky, In his night speechHe said his country also needed to look into the details of the plan.

“If the content of this proposal is the demilitarization of the territory of the nuclear power plant – and this is logical, since it was the Russian military presence that put the Zaporizhia plant on the brink of a radiological disaster – then we can support such a demilitarized protection zone. ”

The plant, which is located on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, is of strategic importance as an important part of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. In addition, the Zaporizhia region borders on a region where Ukrainian troops launched a caliber counterattack It aims to restore the lands lost to Russia at the beginning of the war.

the report He noted that factory workers are subjected to “continuous high pressure and pressure,” saying the situation is “unsustainable.” According to the report, a worker was injured in a bombing last month.

Both countries blamed the other for the bombing around the factory.

“The blows to this facility, which I can personally see and assess with my experts, are simply unacceptable,” Mr Grossi told the UN Security Council later Tuesday. “We are playing with fire and something very disastrous could happen.”

While it can call for changes, the agency, like other UN bodies, has limited power to influence events and is instead dependent on the approval of the ruling parties. At the same time, the Russian invasion presented the agency with an unprecedented challenge in the form of a nuclear facility that became a combat zone.

Mr. Zelensky called for enabling the IAEA to “force Russia to disarm the territory” of the plant and return control to Ukraine. He said the world needed “appropriate means” to coerce Russia, but he did not describe what that would entail.

The International Atomic Energy Agency avoided blaming Kyiv or Moscow for the damage to the reactor, but said in its report that the military equipment at the site “undermined the designed physical protection systems” at the facility. The report indicated the presence of Russian military trucks at the station, including inside the turbine halls of two reactors, and the report recommended that the vehicles be removed from areas that may interfere with the operation of security and safety systems.

After the International Atomic Energy Agency Factory visit And last week, which followed extensive negotiations with the two sides to ensure security, some inspectors remained at the site.

Ivan Nikiburnko Contribute to the preparation of reports.

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