Attacking A Nuclear Plant 'suicidal,' UN Chief Says As He Urges Access To A Ukrainian Site

Attacking a nuclear plant 'suicidal,' UN chief says as he urges access to a Ukrainian site

UNITED NATIONS, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 9th Aug, 2022 ) :UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for international inspectors to be given access to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant after Ukraine and Russia traded accusations over the shelling of the plant at the weekend.

"Any attack to a nuclear plant is a suicidal thing," he told a news conference in Japan on Monday, two days after attending the Hiroshima peace memorial ceremony to commemorate the 77th anniversary of the world's first atomic bombing.

At a press conference in Tokyo, Guterres condemned such attacks without saying either side was responsible, according to a transcript released at UN Headquarters in New York. While Europe's largest nuclear power site has been under Russian control since the early days of the war, Ukrainian technicians are still running it.

Both Moscow and Kyiv have denied responsibility for the strike on the Zaporizhzhia plant over the weekend.

While Europe's largest nuclear power site has been under Russian control since the early days of the war, Ukrainian technicians are still running it.

Energoatom, Ukraine's nuclear power plant operator, said that Russian shelling damaged three radiation monitors around the storage facility for spent nuclear fuels, in which one worker was injured.

The shelling prompted IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi to warn that the way in which Zaporizhzhia was being run coupled with the fighting around it posed "the very real risk of a nuclear disaster".

Since then, a preliminary assessment by UN atomic overseer experts found that the safety and security situation seemed stable with no immediate threat, despite that several pillars were breached.

"We support the IAEA on their efforts in relation to create the conditions of stabilization of that plant," said the UN chief, adding his hope that the IAEA would be able to access the plant.

When asked why a peace deal between Russia and Ukraine had not yet been realized, Guterres said they had been working very closely with Trkiye, which had "launched a new initiative in relation to a possible start of peace negotiations".

But he explained that Ukraine cannot accept that "its territory is taken by another country", and that Russia "does not seem ready to accept" that areas it had taken "will not be annexed by the Russian Federation or give way to new independent States".

Amidst Russian threats of a nuclear attack since it invaded Ukraine in February, fears of a third atomic bombing have grown.

During Monday's news conference, the UN chief reiterated his warning over the use of nuclear weapons, saying that if used, the UN would probably be unable respond because "we might all not be here anymore".

Against the backdrop that the world currently has 13,000 nuclear bombs while continuing to make huge investments into modernizing atomic arsenals, Guterres warned that after decades of nuclear disarmament efforts, we are "moving backwards".

"Stop it," he appealed, underscoring that the billions of Dollars being leveraged into the arms race need to be used in "fighting climate change, fighting poverty, (and) addressing the needs of the international community".

The Secretary-General will next be traveling to Mongolia and South Korea to discuss ways to address North Korea's nuclear development.

When asked about China's massive military exercises around Taiwan, Guterres said the UN "abides by a resolution of the General Assembly, the so-called One China policy".

The dispute was sparked by a visit last week to island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"We all want that resolution to correspond to a peaceful environment," he said, calling for common sense and restraint to allow for an "extremely important" de-escalation.