Western leaders have called on the UN nuclear watchdog to visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, where continued Russian shelling has sparked fears of a disaster.
The White House said that U.S President Joe Biden held a conference call with French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz Sunday.
They discussed the situation at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, including the need to avoid military operations near the plant and the importance of an IAEA visit as soon as feasible to ascertain the state of safety systems, it said in a statement.
The leaders “affirmed their continued support for Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself against Russian aggression,” the statement added.
They also discussed ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, the need to strengthen support for partners in the Middle East region, and joint efforts to deter and constrain Iran’s destabilizing regional activities.
The Western leaders’ call comes within hours of the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency reiterating the need to send an IAEA mission to carry out essential safety, security and safeguards activities at the nuclear site in southern Ukraine.
The IAEA chief warned that any further escalation related to the six-reactor plant could lead to a severe nuclear accident with potentially grave consequences for human health and the environment in Ukraine and elsewhere.
Rafael Mariano Grossi renewed his urgent appeal for maximum military restraint in the area of Zaporizhzya Nuclear Power Plant following new signs of rising tension over Europe’s largest such facility.
Two weeks ago, a shell attack near the dry spent fuel storage facility at the plant had caused some damage.
IAEA experts assessed that there was no immediate threat to nuclear safety as a result of the incident.
The IAEA has not been able to visit Zaporizhzhia since before the conflict began half a year ago. Since early March, it has been controlled by Russian forces, but the Ukrainian staff are continuing to operate the plant.
Currently, only reactor units 5 and 6 are operating at the plant, which is one of the world’s largest nuclear power plants.
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