IAEA chief pushes for Zaporizhzhia power plant 'nuclear safety zone' deal

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By Euronews  with AP
The head of the UN has started consultations with Ukraine and Russia.
The head of the UN has started consultations with Ukraine and Russia.   -   Copyright  Andriy Andriyenko/Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

The head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency started consultations with Kyiv and Moscow on Monday over his call for a “nuclear safety and security protection zone” around the Zaporizhzhia power plant.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Grossi said the two sides appeared to be interested and needed to agree on a "very simple principle of not attacking". 

The IAEA has not assigned blame for the recent shelling, for which Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other. The plant has been occupied by Russian forces but operated by its Ukrainian employees since early in the war.

Pressed on whether his proposal includes demilitarization, Grossi said: “Basically, it’s a commitment that no military action will include or will imply aiming ... at the plant, or a radius that could be affecting its normal operation.”

The Zaporizhzhia plant was reconnected to Ukraine’s electricity grid at the weekend, allowing engineers to shut down its last operational reactor in an attempt to avoid a radiation disaster as fighting rages in the area.

The plant had lost its outside source of power after all its power lines were disconnected because of shelling. 

It operated in “island mode” for several days, generating electricity for crucial cooling systems from its only remaining operational reactor -- which is considered an unstable way of operating a nuclear plant.