Military activities around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant in Ukraine must stop immediately, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Thursday, warning of the potential danger to the area and beyond amid ongoing shelling.
Europe’s largest nuclear plant has been occupied by Russian forces since March, and last week the external power supply system was damaged in an attack.
“I am calling for all military activities in the immediate vicinity of the plant to cease immediately and not to target its facilities or surroundings,” Mr. Guterres said in a statement expressing his grave concern over the unfolding situation.
Withdraw military personnel
The Secretary-General recalled his appeal to all parties “to exercise common sense and reason” and not do anything that might endanger the plant’s physical integrity, safety or security.
“Regrettably, instead of de-escalation, over the past several days there have been reports of further deeply worrying incidents that could, if they continue, lead to disaster,” he said.
“I urge the withdrawal of any military personnel and equipment from the plant and the avoidance of any further deployment of forces or equipment to the site. 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.”
Support for IAEA mission
The Secretary-General underlined the UN’s support for the critical work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and its efforts towards ensuring safe operations at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant.
He also urged the parties to provide the agency with immediate, secure and unfettered access to the site.
“We must be clear that any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia or any other nuclear facilities in Ukraine, or anywhere else, could lead to catastrophic consequences not only for the immediate vicinity, but for the region and beyond. This is wholly unacceptable.”
Rafael Mariano Grossi, the IAEA Director General, will brief the UN Security Council in New York later on Thursday. He will address the situation at the Zaporizhzya nuclear power plant and his ongoing efforts to deploy an expert mission to the site as soon as possible.