Ukraine and Russia promise to allow UN nuclear plant visit amid fears of disaster

Both sides have accused the other of blocking visit by experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency

Rory Sullivan
Monday 08 August 2022 17:28 BST
Ukraine’s nuclear plant situation is ‘really volatile’, UN nuclear chief says

Ukraine and Russia have both said they will allow UN experts to conduct safety checks at a Ukrainian nuclear power plant amid fears of a second Chernobyl.

The countries made the claim while accusing the other side of preventing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from visiting the Zaporizhzhia nuclear facility, which is located in Russian-controlled territory in southeast Ukraine.

Global fears of a potential catastrophe at the nuclear site - the largest in Europe - grew over the weekend after reports suggested three radiation sensors had been damaged by fighting in the area.

A Russian official later confirmed that the plant was operating normally.

Speaking on Monday, Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary general, urged Ukraine and Russia to grant the IAEA access to the plant so that they can “create conditions for stabilisation”.

“Any attack (on) a nuclear plant is a suicidal thing,” he said from Japan, where he was attending an event to commemorate the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

His plea came days after Rafael Grossi, the head of the IAEA, warned that the situation at the Ukrainian facility was “completely out of control” and that communication with the technicians there was “patchy”.

Zaporizhzhia was experiencing a “catalogue of things that should never be happening in any nuclear facility”, he said.

Petro Kotin, the boss of Energoatom, Ukraine’s state nuclear power company, asked the international community to send peacekeepers to Zaporizhzhia.

“The decision that we demand from the world community and all our partners…is to withdraw the invaders from the territory of the station and create a demilitarised zone on the territory of the station,” he said.

“The presence of peacekeepers in this zone and the transfer of control of it to them, and then also control of the station to the Ukrainian side would resolve this problem,” he added.

Meanwhile, Yevhenii Tsymbaliuk, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN’s nuclear watchdog, accused Russia of targeting the plant in a deliberate move to cause electricity blackouts in Ukraine-held areas.

Russia, however, blamed Ukraine for shelling, saying such behaviour was “extremely dangerous”.

The Independent is unable to verify the claims.

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