War in Ukraine: IAEA chief after trip to nuclear power plant: "We are playing with fire"

After his trip to the endangered Ukrainian nuclear power plant Zaporizhia, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sounded the alarm before the Security Council.

War in Ukraine: IAEA chief after trip to nuclear power plant: "We are playing with fire"

After his trip to the endangered Ukrainian nuclear power plant Zaporizhia, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sounded the alarm before the Security Council.

"We are playing with fire and something very, very catastrophic could happen," IAEA chief Rafael Grossi told the UN Security Council in New York on Tuesday. The shelling of the building is extremely dangerous. Military vehicles in the facility's buildings would have to be removed, Grossi said. The external power supply of the reactors must also be ensured in order to ensure, among other things, the cooling of the nuclear power plant.

The authority had previously published its investigation report after its trip to the nuclear power plant. In it, the IAEA called for urgent measures to prevent a nuclear accident. "The IAEA remains seriously concerned about the situation," IAEA chief Rafael Grossi wrote in his investigation report on Tuesday. The situation is "unsustainable". It is therefore urgently necessary to set up a nuclear safety zone around the nuclear power plant occupied by Russian troops, said Grossi. All sides involved in the conflict would have to agree on this in order to prevent even more serious damage from hostilities and the release of radioactivity.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres also called on Russia and Ukraine to agree on a non-combat zone around the nuclear power plant. "Russian and Ukrainian armed forces must undertake not to conduct military activities towards or from the factory premises," Guterres told the UN Security Council in New York.

"It is Russia that is militarizing the power plant. It is Russia that is stationing equipment and troops at the site," Germany's deputy ambassador to the UN, Thomas Zahneisen, told the United Nations' most powerful body. The nuclear power plant is endangered because of the Russian occupation of the site.

An IAEA team led by Grossi traveled to the power plant last week after months of negotiations and preparations to analyze the security situation and set up a presence there for the International Atomic Energy Agency. Two IAEA experts are now permanently on site.

In his report, Grossi reported, among other things, that Russian armored vehicles were stationed in turbine halls. He called for the devices to be withdrawn because they could endanger the safety of the plant.

The repeated shelling of the facility, for which Kyiv and Moscow blame each other, damaged the roofs of storage sites for radioactive material. In addition, part of the radiation measurement system is currently not working.

IAEA: Personnel situation untenable

The situation of the Ukrainian employees of the nuclear power plant, who have been working under Russian occupation for months, is also untenable, the report said. There is not enough staff. The remaining experts are exposed to such high levels of stress that operating errors can occur. They would also not have access to all parts of the facility.

The IAEA expressed concern about repeated power cuts to cool reactor cores and nuclear waste. The report also stated that the nuclear power plant's emergency center was not fully operational due to the Russian occupation and had no internet connection. The company fire brigade is no longer stationed directly on site, but in the nearby town of Enerhodar, it said.

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