United States United Nations ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the world “narrowly averted a nuclear catastrophe last night" following the fire at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
She called Russia’s reactions “reckless” and “dangerous” saying it put the largest nuclear power plant at grave risk and it threatened the safety of civilians in Russia and across Europe.
She called on Russia to withdraw its troops from the plant to ensure operators have full access to the site and are able to communicate with regulators, ensure shift changes, and the safety stability and security of the plant.
“Reliable electricity is vital for the nuclear facility, as are back-up diesel generators and fuel. Safe transit corridors must be maintained," she said. "Russia must halt any further use of force that might put at further risk all 15 operable reactors across Ukraine – or interfere with Ukraine’s ability to maintain the safety and security of its 37 nuclear facilities and their surrounding populations.”
Thomas-Greenfield said praised "the ability of the Ukrainian operators to keep all six reactors in safe conditions while under attack and to report as they were able to their nuclear regulator."
“We are gravely concerned that the Ukrainian operators are now doing their jobs under extreme duress," she added.
The US supports the IAEA Director in his efforts to ensure nuclear safety and “prevent nuclear catastrophe in Ukraine”
She called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to not send his troops on a “suicide mission” against a nuclear power plant.
“Nuclear facilities cannot become part of this conflict,” she said
“Mr Putin must stop this madness, and he must stop it now," she added.
What Russia is saying: Meanwhile, Russian UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the council that the nuclear plant is fully operational and there is no threat of a release of radioactive material.
Nebenzia insisted there is “artificial hysteria” and “lies about how Russian troops attacked the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.” He claimed the area was taken by the Russian army back on Feb. 28. He said in the area adjacent to Zaporizhzhia, a Russian mobile patrol was attacked by a Ukrainian "sabotage group."
The plant and adjacent territory are being guarded and experts have been brought in to manage the facility, and a similar situation exists in Chernobyl, he said. The security of facility is being ensured by Russian Armed forces and Ukrainian operators, he added.
“Together with the people of Belarus and Ukraine we lived through the tragedy of Chernobyl, so we are more interested than most in maintaining a normal radiation situation throughout the territory of Ukraine,” he said.