Fri, 09 Dec 2022

Vienna [Austria], November 20 (ANI): The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Saturday expressed concern over the renewal of hostilities around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear site after powerful explosions were reported in the area of the largest nuclear plant in Europe.

"Powerful explosions shook area of Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) last night and today. IAEA experts at ZNPP report a dozen blasts from apparent shelling and some site buildings, systems and equipment damaged, but none so far critical for nuclear safety and security," IAEA said in a tweet.

In a statement, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said these powerful explosions abruptly ended a period of relative calm at the facility and further underlined the urgent need for measures to help prevent a nuclear accident there.

In what appeared to be renewed shelling both close to and at the site of Europe's largest nuclear power plant, IAEA experts at the ZNPP reported to Agency headquarters that more than a dozen blasts were heard within a short period of time in the morning local time. The IAEA team could also see some of the explosions from their windows.

Citing information provided by plant management, the IAEA team said there had been damage to some buildings, systems and equipment at the ZNPP site, but none of them so far critical for nuclear safety and security. There were no reports of casualties. The IAEA experts are in close contact with site management and will continue to assess and report on the situation.

"The news from our team yesterday and this morning is extremely disturbing. Explosions occurred at the site of this major nuclear power plant, which is completely unacceptable. Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately. As I have said many times before, you're playing with fire!" Director General Grossi said.

The Director General renewed his urgent appeal to both sides in the conflict to agree and implement a nuclear safety and security zone around the ZNPP as soon as possible. In recent months, he has engaged in intense consultations with Ukraine and Russia about establishing such a zone, but so far without an agreement.

"I'm not giving up until this zone has become a reality. As the ongoing apparent shelling demonstrates, it is needed more than ever," he said.

The Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant is the largest in Europe. Russia took control of it at the end of February after it entered Ukraine.

According to Russian news agencies, the Russian defence ministry has accused Ukraine of firing shells at power lines supplying Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The defence ministry said that damage at the nuclear plant will be investigated by experts from the IAEA and state-owned nuclear power supplier. (ANI)

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