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"We must be clear that any potential damage to the plant, or any other nuclear facilities in Ukraine, leading to a possible nuclear incident would have catastrophic consequences, not only for the immediate vicinity, but for the region and beyond," UN Undersecretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo warned.
UN Undersecretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo on Tuesday called for the cessation of all military activities around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine.
Agreement is urgently needed to re-establish the Zaporizhzhia plant as purely civilian infrastructure and to ensure the safety of the area, she told the Security Council in a briefing.
"We must be clear that any potential damage to the plant, or any other nuclear facilities in Ukraine, leading to a possible nuclear incident would have catastrophic consequences, not only for the immediate vicinity, but for the region and beyond," she warned.
"At this moment, it is imperative that we receive the expressed commitment of the parties to stop any military activities around the plant to enable its continued safe and secure operations," she said. "To paraphrase the (UN) secretary-general's blunt warning, any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia is suicidal."
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant continues to be operated by Ukrainian technical personnel but has been under the control of Russian military forces since early March. In early August, disturbing reports of an escalation of shelling around the plant began to emerge, said DiCarlo.
"Regrettably, despite numerous calls and appeals, instead of de-escalation, we continue to see almost daily reports of alarming incidents involving the plant," she said. "If such incidents continue to escalate, we could face a disaster."
The United Nations continues to fully support the critical work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its efforts to ensure the safe operation of Zaporizhzhia and other nuclear facilities in Ukraine, said DiCarlo.
IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi on Tuesday renewed his request to send a mission to carry out essential safety, security and safeguards activities at the site. Preparations for the mission are proceeding, and the IAEA is in active consultations with all parties. The United Nations welcomes Ukraine's and Russia's recent statements indicating support for such a mission, she said.
"In close contact with the IAEA, the UN has assessed that we have the logistics and security capacity in Ukraine to support any IAEA mission to the plant from Kiev, provided Ukraine and Russia agree. We once again urge the parties to provide the IAEA mission with immediate, secure and unfettered access to the site," she said.