The UN nuclear agency called for an immediate end to Russian military actions near Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia plant, and warned that there was a “very real risk of a nuclear disaster”.
The head of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), Rafael Mariano Grossi, said he was “extremely concerned” by reports of bombings at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.
Ukraine says parts of the facility, occupied by Russian forces in March, were “seriously damaged” by military forces.
The Russians kept Ukrainian officials in the operations, but the Ukrainian government accuses Moscow of employing “terror tactics” by firing rockets into civilian areas from the site.
The UK Ministry of Defense says Russia is using the area to launch attacks – taking advantage of the nuclear plant’s “protected status” to reduce the risk of night attacks by Ukrainian forces.
The plant is located in the vicinity of the city of Energodar, in southeastern Ukraine, along the left bank of the Dnieper River.
Attacks carried out yesterday show threats “to public health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond,” Grossi said in a statement.
“Any military firepower directed at or realized from the facility is tantamount to playing with fire, with potentially catastrophic consequences,” he added.
Ukrainian employees at the plant need to carry out their important duties “without threats or pressure,” he said, noting that the IAEA should be allowed to provide technical support.
“To protect people in Ukraine and elsewhere from a potential nuclear accident, we must all put aside our differences and act now. The IAEA is ready,” Grossi said, days after he said the plant was “completely out of control.” “.
Enerhoatom, the Ukrainian nuclear agency that is responsible for operating the plant, said Russian missile attacks had forced the closure of a “power unit” and added that there was a risk of radioactive leaks.
The actions “caused a serious risk to the operational safety of the plant”, Enerhoatom wrote on Telegram.
Moscow, in turn, accuses Ukraine of carrying out the attack.
The BBC was unable to independently verify the reported damage at the nuclear plant.
However, the European Union has condemned Russia for the latest bombing. The bloc’s head of diplomacy, Josep Borrell, said it “is a serious and irresponsible violation of nuclear safety rules and another example of Russia’s disregard for international norms.”
Borrell requests that the IAEA have access to the plant.
Russian forces hold the nuclear facilities, which consist of six pressurized water reactors and store radioactive waste, and also exercise control over neighboring areas.
Civilians in nearby Nikopol, a city across the Dnieper River and still under Ukrainian control, told the BBC that the Russians were firing rockets from the area around the plant and transporting military equipment to the complex.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that “any bombing of this site is a shameless crime, an act of terror”.