UN watchdog: Ukraine and Russia ‘playing with fire’ as giant nuclear power plant is bombed again
The UN’s nuclear watchdog warned on Sunday morning that fighters were ‘playing with fire’ amid new reports of shelling near Ukraine Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, which has been occupied by invading Russian troops since March.
Ukrainian plant officials told UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors that there was further damage to the building and equipment at the site, but critical safety systems remain intact so far.
Powerful explosions near the plant, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, were heard from Saturday evening to Sunday morning, according to Russia’s official TASS news agency.
“The news from our team yesterday and this morning is extremely worrying,” IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in a statement. “Explosions have occurred at the site of this important nuclear power plant, which is totally unacceptable.”
“Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately. As I have said many times before, you are playing with fire!” said Mr. Grossi.
Once again, it was unclear who was responsible for the most recent bombing, with Russian and Ukrainian officials swapping accusations. The TASS report, which could not be verified, indicates that 15 “shells fired by Ukraine” hit near Zaporizhia Saturday, but said no radioactive discharge had been detected at the plant.
The IAEA in its statement said its monitors near the site reported hearing more than a dozen explosions on Sunday morning, adding that the IAEA team could see explosions from their office windows.
The IAEA has unsuccessfully attempted to establish a ceasefire zone around the utility, which has repeatedly been forced to rely on backup generators to keep nuclear reactors running after being cut off from the local power system during the nearly nine-month invasion.
• This article is based in part on reports from the telegraph services.