By Mario Villar
United Nations, Aug 11 (EFE).- The United Nations on Thursday urged Russia and Ukraine to avoid at all costs a potential catastrophe at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which has come under bombardment in recent days amid mutual recriminations between Kyiv and Moscow.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on both sides to cease all military activity in the environs of Europe’s largest nuclear plant.
“The facility must not be used as part of any military operation. Instead, urgent agreement is needed at a technical level on a safe perimeter of demilitarization to ensure the safety of the area,” he said in a statement.
Despite being under Russian control since shortly after Moscow invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, Zaporizhzhia continues to be run by Ukrainian technicians.
The site has been shelled on several occasions over the past week, including as recently as Thursday, according to both Ukraine’s Energoatom and local officials aligned with Russia.
Energoatom reported five impacts on the complex, while the regional administration said that Ukrainian forces shelled the plant twice.
Guterres made his appeal hours before the 15-member UN Security Council met in emergency session to discuss the situation in Zaporizhzhia.
The session began with a briefing via video by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, who said that experts “have provisionally determined that there is no imminent security threat as a result of the shelling or other military action.”
“However, that can change at any time,” he added, asking Kyiv and Moscow to facilitate an IAEA mission to the plant.
“The IAEA has been ready to perform such a mission since June when we were ready to go. But unfortunately, due to political factors and other considerations, it was not possible,” Grossi said.
Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said that UN security officials canceled the June visit to the plant.
“We believe it justified for IAEA representatives to go to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as quickly as possible and possibly even before the end of August,” he said, accusing Kyiv of “criminal attacks” that are pushing the world “to the brink of nuclear catastrophe, comparable in scale with Chernobyl.”
His Ukrainian counterpart, Sergiy Kyslytsya, said that the shelling is a “provocation” by Russia.
The idea that Russian would launch attacks on its own troops is “absurd,” Nebenzia responded.
Speaking for the United States, the under-secretary of state for arms control and international security, Bonnie Jenkins, said that the crisis at Zaporizhzhia was another “tragic result” of Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine. EFE mvs/dr