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IAEA chief warns about 'major escalation' amid Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant attacks

by Kateryna Denisova and The Kyiv Independent news desk April 11, 2024 11:23 PM 2 min read
A view of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on June 15, 2023. (Olga Maltseva/AFP via Getty Images)
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The recent attacks on the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) marked a "major escalation" in nuclear safety danger in Ukraine, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director Rafael Grossi told the IAEA's Board of Governors on April 11.

The organization held an extraodinary in Vienna  meeting at the request of Ukraine and Russia following reports of attacks on the plant.

The ZNPP reportedly suffered at least three direct strikes on April 7, according to the IAEA. This was the first such confirmed strike since November 2022. Another drone attack allegedly targeted the plant's training center adjacent to the site on April 9.

Russia claimed Ukrainian drones attacked the plant. Ukraine's military intelligence agency (HUR) said Kyiv was not involved, calling the latest strike a "Russia's provocation."

Although they did not cause damage, the attacks could pose "the beginning of a new and gravely dangerous front of the war," Grossi said.

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"As I have repeatedly stated... no one can conceivably benefit or gain any military or political advantage from attacks against nuclear facilities. Attacking a nuclear power plant is an absolute no go. Attacking Zaporizhzhia NPP means endangering nuclear safety," Grossi said.

Grossi called for military restraint and adherence to the five concrete principles for protecting the ZNPP.

Grossi is planning to meet with the U.N. Security Council in New York next week to raise concerns over attacks which had “significantly increased the risk of a nuclear accident” at the site.

Ukraine's nuclear energy agency Energoatom said that the only way to prevent nuclear and radiation emergencies is to comply with the IAEA's resolution, withdraw Russian troops and their equipment from the plant, demining nearby territories, and return control over the plant to the agency.

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the largest nuclear plant in Europe, has been under Russian occupation since March 2022. IAEA teams have been based at the facility on rotation since September 2022.

Throughout its occupation, the plant has been repeatedly disconnected from the Ukrainian power grid due to Russian attacks on the country's energy infrastructure.

Russian troops have also used the plant as a platform to launch strikes at Nikopol, situated just across the Kakhovka Reservoir, and other Ukrainian settlements nearby.

Life near Russian-occupied nuclear plant: ‘I don’t know if tomorrow will come’
Editor’s Note: The Kyiv Independent talked to residents who are still in Russian-occupied Enerhodar and those who recently left but still have family in the city. For their safety, we do not disclose their identities. When Russian soldiers captured Enerhodar, the satellite city of the Zaporizhzhia…
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