March 25, 2023

U.N. regulators have called for a “safe zone” around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, shortly after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned of a potential “disaster” there.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has made recommendations on the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) in a new report released on Tuesday.

The IAEA said that “shelling at and near the site should cease immediately to avoid any further damage to the plant and associated facilities, to ensure the safety of operators and maintain the physical integrity to support safe and secure operations.”

“This requires all parties involved to agree to establish a nuclear safety and security zone around the ZNPP,” it added.

The nuclear watchdog report also said the working conditions of Ukrainian staff at the site should be improved.

“The Ukrainian staff operating the plant under Russian military occupation have been under enormous pressure and stress, especially with the limited staff available,” the IAEA said. “This is unsustainable and could lead to artificial Errors increase, with implications for nuclear security.”

The recommendations came days after a team of IAEA experts traveled to a Russian-held nuclear power plant after weeks of talks with Moscow. While most of them have now left Zaporozhye, two of the members remained on site to monitor the situation there.

The Zaporozhye facility was occupied by Russian troops early in the war.

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