Nato says 'urgent need' for UN to inspect Ukraine nuclear plant

Russian military control of centre 'endangers international community', Jens Stoltenberg says

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels on Wednesday. AFP
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There is an "urgent" need for the UN's atomic watchdog to inspect the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine that is under Russian military control, Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.

Mr Stoltenberg said in Brussels that Russia's seizure of the plant "poses a serious threat to the safety and the security of this facility [and] raises the risks of a nuclear accident or incident".

"It is urgent to allow the inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency and to ensure the withdrawal of all Russian forces," he said.

Russian military control of the plant "endangers the population of Ukraine, of neighbouring countries and of the international community", Mr Stoltenberg said.

"Russian troops … now use the ground around the nuclear power plant as a staging area, as a platform, to launch artillery attacks on Ukrainian forces, and this is reckless, it is irresponsible."

Mr Stoltenberg made the comments at two briefings on Wednesday alongside the presidents of Serbia and Kosovo.

Russian forces took the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine in March, shortly after invading.

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The plant is the largest one in Europe, and the uncertainty surrounding it as the war rages has fuelled fears of a nuclear accident to rival that of Chernobyl in 1986, when a reactor exploded.

Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of shelling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear installation.

The UN Security Council last week held an emergency meeting over the situation and warned of a "grave" crisis unfolding in Zaporizhzhia.

UN chief: 'Humanity one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation' - video

On Thursday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will hold talks in western Ukraine with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The discussions were expected to include Zaporizhzhia.

Ukraine relied on four nuclear power stations to supply it with about half of its electricity supply before Russia's invasion.

Its call for a demilitarised zone around the Zaporizhzhia plant has been backed by western allies.

Updated: August 17, 2022, 10:03 PM