UN chief urges Russia and Ukraine to demilitarise Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

International Atomic Energy Agency says power plant needs security zone to avoid nuclear disaster

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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged Russia and Ukraine on Tuesday to agree to a demilitarised perimeter around the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

“As a first step, Russian and Ukrainian forces must commit not to engage in any military activity towards the plant site or from the plant site,” Mr Guterres told the UN Security Council.

“As a second step, an agreement on a demilitarised perimeter should be secured.

“Specifically, that would include a commitment by Russian forces to withdraw all military personnel and equipment from that perimeter and a commitment by Ukrainian forces not to move into it.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency earlier on Tuesday called for a security zone around Europe's biggest nuclear power station, saying its experts had found extensive damage at the plant.

A long-awaited report did not ascribe blame for damage to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which both Russia and Ukraine accuse the other of shelling.

The plant, seized by Russia shortly after its invasion of Ukraine, is controlled by Russian forces but run by Ukrainian technicians.

It sits at the front line on a Russian-held bank of a huge reservoir, with Ukrainian positions across the water.

The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency said on Tuesday that its inspectors on the ground were 'gravely concerned' after finding damage caused to buildings at the plant. Getty Images / AFP

“While the ongoing shelling has not yet triggered a nuclear emergency, it continues to represent a constant threat to nuclear safety and security with a potential impact on critical safety functions that may lead to radiological consequences with great safety significance,” the IAEA wrote.

“The IAEA recommends that shelling on site and in its vicinity should be stopped immediately to avoid any further damages to the plant and associated facilities.

“This requires agreement by all relevant parties to the establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone.”

Vasily Nebenzya, Moscow's ambassador to the UN, voiced regret that the report on Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia plant did not blame Ukraine for shelling the Russian-occupied site.

“We regret that in your report … the source of the shelling is not directly named,” Mr Nebenzya told a Security Council session attended by Rafael Grossi, head of the IAEA, via videoconference.

Updated: September 06, 2022, 10:15 PM
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