May 29, 2023

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UN watchdog chief: Strikes on Ukrainian nuclear plant ‘worrying’ for Ukraine

The head of the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency said on Saturday he was “concerned” about Friday’s bombing UkraineZaporizhzhia power plant of the Zaporizhzhia company, the largest facility of its kind in Europe.

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in a statement that the strikes represented “the latest in a long line of increasingly alarming reports” and stressed “the very real danger of a nuclear catastrophe that could threaten public health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond.”

Earlier on Saturday, the plant’s operator said Friday’s bombing had “severe damage” to a plant containing nitrogen and oxygen and an “additional building”.

Ukraine and Russia blamed each other for the attacks.

“I condemn any acts of violence committed in or near” the factory or against its workers, Grossi said. He added that “military action that threatens the safety and security of the factory” is “totally unacceptable and must be avoided at all costs.”

Grossi also reiterated his desire to “lead the IAEA Safety, Security and Safeguards Expert Mission” to Zaporizhia.

Ukraine has so far rejected the idea of ​​such a mission, which it says would legitimize the Russian presence at the site.

Russian troops occupied the Zaporizhzhia plant from the first days of the invasion of Ukraine. However, Grossi insisted he “won’t give up”.

“I will continue to press and press again for the IAEA’s mission to finally be done,” he said, acknowledging that it would require “cooperation, understanding and facilitation from both Ukraine and Russia.”

As part of this mission, Grossi said, “IAEA safeguards inspectors can conduct essential verification activities at the plant,” and the IAEA will also provide “impartial and independent information” about the plant’s status.

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