UN watchdog ditches Ukrainian nuclear plant safety zone scheme
The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog today abandoned the idea of creating a safety and security zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine.
Since September, Rafael Mariano Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has been pushing Ukraine and Russia to agree on putting the nuclear plant off limits from the ongoing military conflict.
"Initially we have been focusing on the possibility of establishing a well-determined zone around the plant," he told reporters during a visit at the plant today. "Now the concept is evolving, refocusing more on the protection itself, the things that should be avoided ... rather than on territorial aspects which pose certain problems."
At the core of the new concept is the principle that "a nuclear power plant should not be attacked, under any circumstances, or should not be used to attack others," or be used as a military base or to store heavy weapons, the IAEA chief said.
Russian troops have been occupying the plant — the largest in Europe — since March last year, while its operations have remained in the hands of Ukrainian staff.
"It is obvious that the situation is not improving," Grossi said, pointing at increasing military activity in the region.
Grossi added that efforts to reach a deal between Kyiv and Moscow on measures to prevent a nuclear accident are still "a work in progress."