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'Dangerous provocation': Kremlin blasts Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant attack

FILE - A Russian serviceman guards an area of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in territory under Russian military control, southeastern Ukraine, on May 1, 2022.
FILE - A Russian serviceman guards an area of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in territory under Russian military control, southeastern Ukraine, on May 1, 2022. Copyright Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP, EBU
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Attacks on the Ukrainian nuclear power plant have significantly increased the risk of an accident, warned the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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Moscow condemned a drone strike on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine on Monday. 

"This is a very dangerous provocation," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. "This is a very dangerous practice with very bad negative consequences."

"The Kyiv regime continues its terrorist activity," he added. 

On Sunday, a drone strike hit one of six nuclear reactors at the Russian-controlled plant in southeastern Ukraine. 

The UN's atomic watchdog also denounced the attack, saying it “significantly increases the risk of a major nuclear accident."

Officials at the plant said: "The site was attacked on Sunday by Ukrainian military drones, including a strike on the dome of the plant’s sixth power unit". 

Kyiv strongly denies any involvement.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed the main reactor containment structures of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) were struck by at least three direct hits.

IAEA head Rafael Grossi said it was the first such attack since November 2022, when he set out five basic principles to avoid a serious nuclear accident with radiological consequences.

"This cannot happen," Grossi wrote on his X account on Sunday. 

He issued a strong plea to military decision-makers, urging them to refrain from any actions breaching the fundamental principles safeguarding nuclear facilities.

According to plant authorities, there was no critical damage or casualties. Radiation levels at the plant were also normal after the strikes. 

Later on Sunday, however, Russian state-owned nuclear agency Rosatom said three people were wounded in the “unprecedented series of drone attacks,” specifically when a drone hit an area close to the site’s canteen.

Ukrainian intelligence service said "Ukraine is not involved in any armed provocations on the territory of the illegally occupied station", claiming it might be a "simulated" strike from the Russian side.

The IAEA confirmed the physical impact of drone attacks at the plant, including at one of its six reactors. One casualty was reported, it said.

"Damage at unit 6 has not compromised nuclear safety, but this is a serious incident with potential to undermine integrity of the reactor’s containment system” it added.

The power plant has been caught in the crossfire since Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in 2022 and seized the facility shortly after. The IAEA has repeatedly expressed alarm about the nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, amid fears of a potential nuclear catastrophe. 

Both Ukraine and Russia have regularly accused the other of attacking the plant, which is still close to the front lines.

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The plant’s six reactors have been shut down for months, but it still needs power and qualified staff to operate crucial cooling systems and other safety features.

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