UN nuclear chief pushes for safety zone at Zaporizhzhia power plant in visit to Kyiv and Moscow

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By Euronews  with AFP
A Russian serviceman guards in an area of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station on May 1, 2022
A Russian serviceman guards in an area of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station on May 1, 2022   -   Copyright  AP

The UN's nuclear watchdog chief is stepping up calls for a safety zone around the Zaporizhzhia power plant in Ukraine. 

Shelling near the atomic power station -- the largest such facility in Europe -- has prompted fears of nuclear disaster during recent months. 

This week the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, is seeking to negotiate a protection zone during a visit to Moscow and Kyiv. 

"We will be working on the protection of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, we have to work on that,” Grossi said.

His visit comes after Russian forces released Ihor Murashov, the head of the Zaporizhzhia plant, after having detained him over the weekend. 

The IAEA said Murashov will not be returning to his duties at the Russian-controlled nuclear facility, which is in one of the four regions annexed by the Kremlin last week. 

The UN nuclear watchdog has been pushing Kyiv and Moscow to agree to establish a security zone around the plant to seek to avoid any nuclear accidents.

When asked in September about the protection zone, Grossi said he hoped for a commitment that "no military action" would affect the normal operation of the plant.

Shelling has previously caused one of the Zaporizhzhia facility's nuclear reactors to temporarily shut down.