“Precarious nuclear security situation”: Concerns about Zaporizhia nuclear power plant are growing

Kiev and Moscow blame each other: “Precarious nuclear security situation”: Concerns about the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant are growing.

Kiev and Moscow have accused each other of wanting to target the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant for attack or sabotage. With the upcoming extension of the grain agreement, the Kremlin still sees time to meet certain demands.

Concerns about Ukraine’s Zaporizhia nuclear power plant became the focus of attention in the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine on Wednesday. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) spoke of a “precarious nuclear security situation” in view of another power failure in Zaporizhia.

The latest mutual accusations by Ukraine and Russia of wanting to damage Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, which has since been shut down, through sabotage or attacks have triggered further concerns. Such an incident should be imminent. The Kremlin, meanwhile, insisted on fulfilling its conditions for the extension of the grain agreement.

IAEA: “Precarious nuclear safety situation” at Zaporizhia power plant

According to the IAEA, the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant recently lost connection to its external main power line again. The power plant is therefore dependent on the recently restored replacement supply from a less powerful line, explained IAEA boss Rafael Grossi on Tuesday evening in Vienna. The reason for the power outage was not known as of Wednesday evening.

According to the IAEA, the electricity is needed, for example, to pump cooling water for the plant. “This time the power plant avoided a total blackout of all external power supply – which had already happened seven times during the conflict – but the recent power line disruption once again highlights the precarious nuclear safety situation at the power plant,” Grossi said.

Both warring parties accuse each other of planned attacks on the power plant

Moscow and Kiev are now accusing each other of an allegedly imminent attack on the nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine. The Russian military had placed objects resembling explosives on the roofs of several reactor blocks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his daily video address on Tuesday evening. Moscow, on the other hand, said the Ukrainian armed forces themselves were planning an attack on the nuclear power plant, which is close to the front.

Ukraine has been defending itself against the Russian invasion for more than 16 months. The Ukrainian counter-offensive launched just under a month ago also aims to recapture the Zaporizhia power plant. With a gross output of 6,000 megawatts, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant has been under Russian control since the beginning of March 2022. All six reactors have been shut down since last September.

Kremlin: Great danger of sabotage around Zaporizhia nuclear plant

The Kremlin, for its part, described the situation around the nuclear power plant as “quite tense”. The danger of sabotage by Kiev is great, “which can have catastrophic consequences,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday, according to the Russian news agency Interfax. Russia will take all measures to counter such a threat.

Ukraine, meanwhile, has sharply criticized the IAEA for its handling of the Russian-held nuclear power plant. With regard to IAEA boss Rafael Grossi, the adviser to the presidential office, Mykhailo Podoliak, said: “People are absolutely ineffective in managing the key risk.” The IAEA has “clear levers of influence” on Russia, he said on Wednesday night on Ukrainian news television. Pressure on the state-owned nuclear company Rosatom could have forced the Russians to withdraw and clear mines, he argued. Podoljak spoke of a “clownery” and described Grossi as “this person” and “the subject Grossi”.

The Kremlin still sees time for meeting Russian demands in order to be able to extend the agreement to ship Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea. “There is still time to implement the part of the agreements that affect our country,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday, according to the Russian state agency TASS.

The part of the agreement concerning Russia has not yet been fulfilled. “And accordingly, at the moment, unfortunately, there is no basis for extending this agreement,” Peskov said. A decision on the future of the grain deal has not yet been made and will be announced in good time.

The grain agreement, which is also important for the fight against hunger in the world, expires on July 17. Among other things, Russia had demanded the lifting of sanctions against its agricultural bank. However, this would require the consent of the EU states, which is considered unenforceable. Therefore, establishing a subsidiary should be a way out.

Jean Harris

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