The United Nations nuclear watchdog and Western powers expressed alarm on Wednesday over the safety of Ukraine’s Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, as Kyiv accused Russia of fresh shelling.
The Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom said on Telegram that a Russian “terrorist” attack damaged a power line at the facility, forcing emergency generators to start briefly.
But it said radiation levels remained normal.
Rafael Grossi, director of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), again warned the plant of “playing with fire”.
“The situation is still deteriorating and we cannot wait for something regrettable to happen,” Grossi said at United Nations headquarters in New York.
“I have come up with technical parameters to provide the necessary protection for the device,” he told reporters after a meeting chaired by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Grossi said he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in New York on Wednesday, followed by a conversation with Ukraine’s top diplomat, Dmitro Kuleba.
But he acknowledged the lack of progress on his proposal to create a safety zone around the factory.
“Demilitarization was a goal, but now it’s about protecting the factories,” Grossi said.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky warned in a video address to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had turned the Zaporozhye factory into a “target”, which he said should be The world is deeply alarming.
“Russian radiation extortion is something that each of you should be concerned about because none of you can find a vaccine against radiation sickness,” he said.
Senior diplomats from major powers including the United States, France, Britain and Germany said in a joint statement that they had “grave concerns” about Ukraine’s nuclear facilities.
They laid out seven “indispensable pillars” for nuclear safety, including safety and security systems that “remain fully operational at all times”.
Energoatom called for “more determined action” against Russia, saying even “the presence of IAEA inspectors cannot stop” them.
Shelling around Europe’s largest atomic facility, which was seized by Russian forces in March, has prompted calls from Kyiv and its Western allies to demilitarize the area around Ukraine’s nuclear power plant.
Early in the war, fighting took place around Chernobyl in the north, and an explosion in 1986 contaminated large swathes of the surrounding area.
Putin warned that fighting there would have “catastrophic” consequences, leading Ukraine to accuse Moscow of using Zaporozhye’s security for extortion.
Russia was accused on Monday of bombing Pivdennoukrainsk, a third nuclear power plant in the southern Mykolaiv region.