Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Wednesday night that
Ukrainian diplomats and nuclear scientists are in “constant touch” with
the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and working to get a team of
inspectors into the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
The plant has been occupied by Russian troops since the start of the war
in Ukraine but there have been increasing fears that a nuclear catastrophe
could take place as shelling has intensified around the plant, which
Ukraine says has been used by Russia to store ammunition and military
equipment. Russia has accused Ukraine of shelling the plant.
There are heightened fears that a catastrophe could occur at the plant,
which is Europe’s largest of its kind. Yesterday, Ukraine’s Emergency
Ministry conducted a nuclear catastrophe exercise in Zaporizhzhia in case
of an accident.
In other news, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is in
Lviv in Ukraine on Thursday to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan and President Zelenskyy.
The three are expected to discuss the ongoing Black Sea Initiative to
export grains from Ukraine. Guterres will also meet with Zelenskyy to
discuss the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
The U.S. reiterated concerns regarding Russia’s military takeover and
continued control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
“The International Atomic Energy Agency must be given access to the
Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as soon as possible and in a manner that
respects Ukraine’s full sovereignty to help ensure the safety and security
of the plant and monitoring of its nuclear material,” State Department
spokesman Ned Price said during a daily press briefing.
“The United States condemns in the strongest terms Russia’s reckless
disregard for nuclear safety and security,” Price said, adding that
Washington and its allies “call on Russia to cease all military operations
at or near Ukraine’s nuclear facilities.”
Price also urged Russia to allow IAEA inspectors access to the nuclear
power plant facility.
Russian forces took control of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant
shortly after a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the Zaporizhzhia nuclear
power plant should be demilitarized immediately.
Guterres, speaking alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said “any potential damage to
Zaporizhzhia is suicide.”
“Military equipment and personnel should be withdrawn from the plant.
Further deployment of forces or equipment to the site must be avoided,” he
Guterres urged all parties to approve the International Atomic Energy
Agency, a nuclear watchdog, to visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.