Ukraine nuclear plant shelled, UN watchdog says

Explosions shook the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine over the weekend in what appeared to be renewed shelling of the facility and the surrounding area, according to the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi called reports that agency experts on site had heard more than a dozen blasts near the plant “extremely disturbing” and “completely unacceptable.”

“Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately. As I have said many times before, you’re playing with fire!” Grossi said in a statement.

Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for the explosions, which IAEA experts said damaged some buildings, systems and equipment at Zaporizhzhia.

Russia’s war on Ukraine has destabilized the plant and heightened international concern over a potential nuclear accident, amid ongoing worries over Russian President Putin’s threat to use such weapons in the war.

The weekend’s latest blasts ended a “period of relative calm” in the area, the IAEA said.

Grossi underscored his ongoing calls for both sides of the conflict to create a safe zone around the plant to try and prevent nuclear accidents as the war drags on.

“I’m not giving up until this zone has become a reality. As the ongoing apparent shelling demonstrates, it is needed more than ever,” Grossi said.

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