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12th Apr 2024

UN chief demands access to nuclear plant after new attack

  • Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Enerhodar, south-eastern Ukraine, which has been shelled, causing damage to radiation sensors according to Ukrainian reports (Photo: Wikimedia)
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International inspectors should be given access to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.

This is what UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said on Monday (8 August) after Ukraine and Russia accused each other of shelling the facility.

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"Any attack on a nuclear plant is a suicidal thing," Guterres said at a news conference in Japan after attending the Hiroshima peace memorial ceremony to commemorate the 77th anniversary of the world's first atomic bombing.

Ukraine said renewed Russian shelling on Saturday had damaged three radiation sensors and hurt a worker at the Zaporizhzhia power plant.

"There is no such nation in the world that could feel safe when a terrorist state fires at a nuclear plant," Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said in a televised address on Sunday.

He also accused Russia of waging "nuclear terror" and said more international sanctions were needed, this time on Moscow's nuclear sector.

Russian troops captured the nuclear facility in southeastern Ukraine in March, but Ukrainian technicians are still running it.

The Russian embassy in Washington also released a statement, saying that a Ukrainian rocket-launcher attack caused the damage.

The statement said that two high-voltage power lines and a water pipeline were damaged due to the shelling.

Ukraine says Russia has turned the plant into a military base, making it extremely hard to target Russian troops and equipment.

According to the New York Times, Russia has been using the plant as cover from which to fire on Ukrainian forces since mid-July.

Although the UN could not verify either side's story, Guterres said Monday that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) needed access to the plant.

"We fully support the IAEA in all their efforts in relation to creating the conditions of stabilisation of the plant," Guterres said.

IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi warned on Saturday that the latest attack "underlines the very real risk of a nuclear disaster".

European Council president Charles Michel tweeted on Sunday that the "reports of shelling [at the plant] are alarming; its safety is of the highest concern."

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