The situation at the Zaporiyia nuclear power plant (southern Ukraine) controlled by the Russians since the beginning of March is "volatile", warned Tuesday the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is trying to send a mission to the plant.
"The situation is really volatile," Argentine Rafael Mariano Grossi told a press conference at UN headquarters in New York, which has been hosting since Monday the 10th conference of the 191 signatory states to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
"All security principles have been violated in one way or another. And we cannot allow it to continue to happen," he added. At the opening of the meeting on Monday, he had stressed that the situation was "becoming more dangerous by the day."
Grossi has been trying for weeks to send a mission to inspect the plant. But so far, Ukraine has refused such a mission because in its view it would legitimize the Russian occupation of the plant, Ukrainian operator Energoatom explained a few weeks ago.
"Surrendering to the site is very complex because you need the agreement and cooperation of several actors," particularly Ukraine and Russia, and the support of the UN, as it is a war zone, Grossi said.
"I am trying to launch a mission as soon as possible," he maintained.
On Monday, U.S. chief diplomat Antony Blinken accused Russia of using this power plant, the largest in Europe, "as a military base to fire on the Ukrainians knowing that the Ukrainians cannot respond because they would risk hitting a nuclear reactor or highly radioactive waste."
"This takes the notion of human shielding to a whole different and terrible level," he added, insisting that the IAEA must have access to the plant.
In 2021, the plant generated 20% of Ukraine's annual electricity production and 74% of that produced by the Ukrainian nuclear fleet.