Bombings in recent days around the Ukrainian nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia, located on the outskirts of the Russian-controlled city of Enerhodar, have alerted atomic regulatory authorities and the United Nations. Its secretary general, António Guterres, called on Monday for international inspectors to be allowed access to Europe's largest atomic plant, while Ukraine and Russia, who are fighting intensely in this southern region of the country, accuse each other of the attacks.
Without naming anyone responsible, Guterres warned that "any attack on a nuclear plant is a suicide mission", from a press conference in Japan, where he attended the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony on Saturday, on the 77th anniversary of the first atomic bombing of history.
Guterres made these statements after last Friday and Saturday there were two attacks against the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, controlled by Russia practically from the first days of its military campaign in Ukraine, although it continues to be directed by Ukrainian technicians. According to Kyiv, the latest Russian shelling on Saturday damaged three radiation sensors and injured a power plant worker.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of exercising "nuclear terror" and called for more international sanctions, this time on Moscow's nuclear sector. "There is no nation in the world that can feel safe when a terrorist state fires on a nuclear plant," Zelensky said in a videotaped speech on Sunday.
Energoatom, the company that owns the plant, reported that a worker was injured and that the radiation monitoring sensors were damaged. According to Ukraine's state nuclear power company, Russian rocket attacks hit the plant's dry storage facility, where 174 containers of spent nuclear fuel are stored in the open.
The Russian authority in the area, for its part, accused the Ukrainian forces of carrying out the attack on Friday with the launch of several rockets, which damaged administrative buildings and an area near a warehouse. The Russian embassy in Washington also released a statement detailing the damage.
"Ukrainian nationalists launched an artillery strike on the territory of the specified object on August 5. Two high-voltage power lines and a water pipe were damaged as a result of the shelling. Only thanks to the effective and timely action of the Russian military to cover the nuclear power facility, its critical infrastructure was not affected," the embassy said. In turn, the Russian Ministry of Defense published a video to show the damage.
Until investigators are allowed access to the site, neither side's version can be verified. Guterres called for Russia to allow staff of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to access the plant: "We fully support the IAEA in all its efforts in relation to creating stabilization conditions for the plant." IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi warned Saturday, after the first of the two attacks, that the bombing underlined "the very real risk of a nuclear disaster."