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Top Russian official warns of possible nuclear accident in Zaporizhzhia

Last updated: Nov 21, 2022, 6:50 PM IST

This file photo shows a general view of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Enerhodar, Zaporizhzhia Oblast.  (AFP)

This file photo shows a general view of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Enerhodar, Zaporizhzhia Oblast. (AFP)

Moscow and Kiev have exchanged allegations of shelling at the facility for months since Russian forces took over in March, shortly after invading Ukraine.

The head of Russia’s state atomic energy agency, Rosatom, warned on Monday that there was a risk of a nuclear accident at Zaporizhzhia’s nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, following renewed shelling over the weekend.

Moscow and Kiev have exchanged allegations of shelling the facility for months since Russian forces took control in March, shortly after invading Ukraine. Renewed shelling on Sunday sparked new fears of a possible disaster at the site.

“The plant is at risk of a nuclear accident. We were negotiating with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) all night,” Interfax quoted Rosatom CEO Alexei Likhachev as saying.

Rosatom has controlled the facility through a subsidiary since President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia in October to formally seize the plant and hand over Ukrainian personnel to a Russian entity. Kiev says the transfer of assets is tantamount to theft.

The IAEA has called for the creation of a security zone around the plant, something Likhachev says would only be possible if approved by the United States.

“I think that the great distance between Washington and Zaporizhzhia should not be an argument for the United States to postpone the decision on a security zone,” Interfax quoted him as saying.

The Rosatom head also said that it appeared Kiev was ready to “accept” a “minor nuclear accident” at the nuclear power plant.

This will set a precedent that will change the course of history forever. Therefore, everything should be done so that no one has in mind to violate the safety of the nuclear power plant,” TASS quoted him as saying.

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