UAE 'strongly condemns' reports of violence at Ukraine nuclear plants

Diplomat says preventing a nuclear catastrophe is 'of utmost importance'

Russian troops occupied the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the early stages of the invasion of Ukraine. AP
Powered by automated translation

The UAE said on Wednesday that it “strongly condemns” reported acts of violence at nuclear power plants in Ukraine that have triggered fears of a disaster.

Hamad Alkaabi, the UAE's permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said averting a nuclear catastrophe was “of utmost importance”.

Mr Alkaabi also called on Iran to co-operate with the IAEA to “build confidence” that its nuclear activities are peaceful.

He spoke at non-proliferation talks taking place in Vienna after a summit last year ended in a stalemate because of differences over the war in Ukraine.

Russia and Ukraine have both blamed the other over reports of shelling near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.

The IAEA said last week that its experts had found anti-personnel mines on the edge of the Zaporizhzhia site.

Fighting near the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 also caused concern after Russia invaded Ukraine last year.

“It is of utmost importance for the international community to prevent nuclear disasters, whether resulting from direct attacks on nuclear facilities or inadvertent consequences of conflict,” Mr Alkaabi said.

“We strongly condemn reported violent actions at nuclear facilities in Ukraine, as such actions pose serious threats to the safety and security of these facilities, their personnel, the public and the environment.”

Russian troops occupied the Zaporizhzhia plant early on in the invasion but it continues to be operated by Ukrainian staff.

Moscow recently announced that it would send short-range nuclear weapons to Belarus, its close ally.

Izumi Nakamitsu, the UN's high representative for disarmament, called on Russia and the US to observe their last remaining arms control treaties and discuss “what is needed” in the future.

Mr Alkaabi said the UAE " continues to advocate for diplomacy and dialogue” with regard to Iran, which is in a long-running dispute with the IAEA over unexplained nuclear activities.

Iran's compliance with non-proliferation and safeguards agreements “is essential to build confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme”, Mr Alkaabi said.

“Credible explanations and full co-operation and transparency with the IAEA are crucial in this regard.”

Updated: August 02, 2023, 3:35 PM