The head of the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency said Saturday he was “concerned” by Friday’s bombing of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya power plant, the largest such facility in Europe.
In a statement, Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the strikes were “the latest in a long line of increasingly alarming reports” and emphasized “the very real danger of a nuclear catastrophe that could threaten public health and the environment in Ukraine and beyond.”
Earlier on Saturday, the operator of the facility said Friday’s bombing had “severe damage” to a plant containing nitrogen and oxygen and an “additional building”.
Ukraine and Russia blame each other for the attacks.
“I condemn all acts of violence perpetrated in or near the factory or against its workers,” Grossi said, adding that “military action that endangers the safety and security of the facility” is “totally unacceptable” and must be avoided at all costs.
Grossi also reiterated his readiness to lead an “IAEA expert mission on security and safeguards” to Zaporizhia.
Ukraine has so far rejected the idea of such a mission because it would legitimize Russia’s presence on the ground.
Russian troops occupied the Zaporizhia factory from the first days of the invasion of Ukraine. However, Grossi insisted he “won’t give up”.
“I will continue to press for the IAEA’s mission to finally take place,” he said, but acknowledged that it would require “cooperation, understanding and support from both Ukraine and Russia.”
Under this mission, Grossi said, IAEA safety inspectors can “conduct essential verification activities at the facility,” and the agency will also provide “impartial and independent information” about the facility’s condition.