“Military action that endangers the safety of the Zaporizhzya nuclear power plant is completely unacceptable and must be avoided at all costs,” Grossi’s statement said.
After Friday’s bombing, Russia and Ukraine blamed each other for the attack. The facility near the front lines has been under Russian control since March but is still staffed by Ukrainian personnel.
in his night Address On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pointed to the bombing in Zaporizhzhia as another reason Russia should be recognized as a “state sponsor of terrorism,” which he has repeatedly called for.
Zelensky also advocated sanctions against Russia’s nuclear industry.
“This is purely a security issue,” he said. “Whoever creates nuclear threats to other nations is definitely not capable of using nuclear technologies safely.”
In turn, the Russian Defense Ministry blamed Ukraine for the attack, saying that the protection of Russian-backed forces was the reason the plant did not suffer major damage. The shelling damaged two power lines and a water pipe, leaving more than 10,000 residents without water or electricity, according to the Defense Ministry statement.
Russia originally seized the facility after one of its shells started a fire at the plant complex, raising concerns about the safety of Ukraine’s four nuclear sites that have continued in the months since.
“Ukrainian personnel operating the plant under Russian occupation must be able to carry out their important functions without threats or pressure that would undermine not only their own security but also that of the facility,” Grossi said in his statement.
The American Nuclear Society (ANS) supported Grossi’s calls to stop the attacks on the facility and send a mission there, condemning the bombing in a statement on Saturday.
“It is unjustifiable for a civilian nuclear facility to be used as a military base or to be the target of a military operation,” said the organization’s president, Steven Arndt, and executive director, Craig Piercy.
Friday’s bombardment did not damage any of Zaporizhzhia’s six reactors and did not release radioactive material into the environment, according to Grossi, but the plant was damaged elsewhere.
He added that an IAEA mission to the nuclear power plant would allow inspectors to assess it and collect information independent of reports from Ukraine and Russia.
But the situation around Zaporizhzhia is likely to become more, not less, dangerous, according to the British defense ministry because the heaviest fighting is shifting towards the power plant.
The IAEA has been working for months to ensure the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear sites. In April, Gross led a mission to the country’s Chernobyl plant, the site of one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters in 1986, after Russian-backed forces withdrew in March.
He led a follow-up mission to the site in early June, with experts assessing its condition and providing training on radiation monitoring equipment. A similar mission to Zaporizhzhia, Grossi said, is “crucial” to its security.
“But this will need the cooperation, understanding and facilitation of both Ukraine and Russia,” he said, adding that UN Secretary-General António Guterres supported the agency’s plan.
Grossi was in New York on Monday for the 10th review conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. In his opening speech, he referred to the “seven pillars” of nuclear safety and security, which include the physical integrity of facilities, reliable communication with regulators and the ability of personnel to work safely.
Those pillars, Grossi said in his statement, had been violated in Zaporizhzhia, during the bombing on Friday and in the months after Russia’s invasion.
“We can’t afford to waste any more time,” he said. “In the interest of protecting people in Ukraine and elsewhere from a potential nuclear accident, we must all put aside our differences and act now.”