Since March, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine has been under Russian occupation. Since late July, the largest nuclear plant in Europe has been shelled repeatedly, with Kyiv and Moscow blaming each other for the attacks. This has sparked fears of a nuclear disaster. Last week, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on the situation without getting any closer to a solution.
It is not the first time in this war that the question of nuclear safety and security has been raised. This is not only about the potential use of nuclear weapons — Russian President Vladimir Putin has openly expressed this thought — but also about nuclear power stations being used as military targets.
Russia has been widely accused of using the plant as a shield from which to launch attacks. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called Russia’s actions a kind of "unconcealed nuclear blackmail." Using the plant in this way violates the Geneva Convention, which states that particular care must be taken if "installations containing dangerous forces" are located near the fighting. About 500 Russian troops are reported to be currently at the site. "The facility must not be used as part of any military operation," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement after a meeting of the Security Council last week. "Instead, an urgent agreement is needed at a technical level on a safe perimeter of demilitarization to ensure the safety of the area." So far, no serious damage or radiation release has been detected and there is "no immediate threat" to the safety of the plant as a result of fighting. But "this could change at any moment," International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafael Grossi told the UN Security Council on August 12.
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