The U.N. nuclear watchdog and Western powers on Wednesday expressed concern over the safety of Ukraine’s Zaporizhia nuclear power plant as Kyiv accused Russia of launching new missiles.
An attack by Russian “terrorists” damaged a power line at the facility, forcing an emergency generator to short-circuit, Ukrainian nuclear operator Energoatom said in a telegram.
But it said radiation levels are normal.
Rafael Grossi, director of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), renewed his warning about “playing with fire” at the plant.
“The situation is still deteriorating and we cannot wait for something tragic to happen,” Grossi said at UN headquarters in New York.
“I have proposed the technical parameters to give the necessary protection to this installation,” he told reporters after a meeting led by French President Emmanuel Macron.
Grossi said he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in New York on Wednesday and later spoke with Ukraine’s top diplomat Dmytro Kuleba.
But he acknowledged a lack of progress on recommending a safety belt around the plant.
“Demilitarization is a goal but for now it’s about protecting the plant,” Grossi said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned in a video address to the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had “targeted” the Zaporizhia plant, which he said should cause deep concern worldwide.
“Russian radiation blackmailing is a matter of concern to all of you, because none of you will find a vaccine against radiation sickness,” he said.
In a joint statement, top energy diplomats including the US, France, Britain and Germany said they were “deeply concerned” about Ukraine’s nuclear facilities.
They established seven “indispensable pillars” of nuclear security that safety and security measures “are always fully operational.”
Energoatom called for “stronger action” against Russia, saying even “the presence of IAEA inspectors cannot stop them”.
Europe’s largest nuclear facility was seized by Russian troops in March, and shelling around it has prompted calls from Kyiv and its Western allies to demilitarize areas around Ukraine’s nuclear facilities.
Early in the war, fighting took place around Chernobyl in the north, where an explosion in 1986 left surrounding areas contaminated.
Putin has warned of the “disastrous” consequences of war there, prompting Ukraine to charge that Moscow is using Zaporizhia’s security as blackmail.
On Monday, Russia was accused of bombing a third nuclear plant, Pivdenukrensk, in the southern Mykolaiv region.