Kiev: As Russia again accused Ukraine of shelling the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, concerns grew for the safety of the complex which has witnessed repeated shelling in recent days.
An accident at the Ukrainian nuclear plant in Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhya would be far worse than the Chernobyl or Fukushima disasters, dpa news agency quoted Yevheny Zymbalyuk, Kiev’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as saying in Vienna on Monday.
He warned of severe consequences not only for Ukraine, but all of Europe.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also warned of the danger of the current situation, saying that “any attack on a nuclear plant is a “suicidal thing”.
“What will happen in a radius of 40 or 50 km of the station, that is absolutely not comparable to Chernobyl or Fukushima,” Zymbalyuk added.
Analysts however say compared to the plants at Chernobyl and Fukushima, Zaporizhzhya is better protected thanks to a separate cooling circuit and a special protective layer, although it would probably be unable to withstand a targeted military attack.
Zymbalyuk again demanded monitors from the IAEA to be sent to Zaporizhzhya along with unarmed international military observers.
He said IAEA representatives should be on the ground by the end of the month.
The IAEA has long complained that it is waiting to access to the plant and said that any deployment would require the support of both Moscow and Kiev.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov urged the West to put pressure on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as Moscow accuses Ukraine of shelling the nuclear plant.
“We expect that the countries that have absolute influence over the Ukrainian leadership will use this to prevent further shelling,” Peskov said.
He spoke of a “highly dangerous activity” with, in the worst case, catastrophic consequences for all of Europe.
In Washington, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre on Monday said the US continues to “closely monitor the activity as the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration report that the radiation sensors are continuing to provide data, and thankfully we have seen no indications of increased or abnormal radiation levels”.
“And we continue to call on Russia to cease all military operations at or near Ukrainian nuclear facilities and return full control to Ukraine,” she added.