Zelensky echoes UN call for safety zone around Ukraine nuclear plant

FILE – A Russian serviceman guards in an area of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in territory under Russian military control, southeastern Ukraine, Sunday, May 1, 2022. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency visited the sprawling plant in southern Ukraine on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022 The IAEA’s Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi highlighted the risks they had to deploy a team in the area amidst the war. (AP Photo, File)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is voicing support for a safety zone around his nation’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, echoing a call from a United Nations watchdog.

“If the content of this proposal is to demilitarize the territory of the nuclear power plant — and this is logical, as it was the Russian military presence that put the Zaporizhzhia plant on the brink of a radiation disaster — then we can support such a demilitarized protection zone,” Zelensky said in an address to his country late Tuesday, referring to an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) proposal announced earlier in the day.

“I believe that the world not only deserves, but also needs the representatives of the IAEA to force Russia to demilitarize the territory of the [power plant] and return full control to Ukraine,” the Ukrainian president added.

The IAEA called for a “nuclear safety and security protection zone” around the plant in a report released on Tuesday.

The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said there is an “urgent” need for measures to prevent a nuclear accident at the plant, which lies on the front line of the war in Ukraine and has already been damaged by shelling.

Russian forces captured the Zaporizhzhia power plant in March — early on in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — but it continues to be operated by Ukrainian technicians.

Tags International Atomic Energy Agency Nuclear energy russia Russia-Ukraine war ukraine United Nations Volodymyr Zelensky Volodymyr Zelensky Zaporizhzhia power plant

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