Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) should be made into a demilitarized zone, as proposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency or IAEA, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said during his regular evening address to the nation on Sept. 6.
The IAEA made the proposal in a report issued a few days after the agency’s recent mission to the facility.
In particular, the president said that the report noted the presence of Russian military equipment on the territory of the nuclear plant, and the fact that Ukrainian nuclear workers are being put under pressure.
Responding to the IAEA proposal to create a secure zone around the nuclear plant, Zelenskyy said it should be established how this could be done.
“If the proposal’s content is to demilitarize the territory of the nuclear plant – and this is logical, because it was the Russian military presence that brought the nuclear plant to the brink of a radiation disaster – then we can support such a demilitarized secure zone.”
Zelenskyy also said international organizations like the IAEA need a much broader mandate and powers to compel Russia to demilitarize the nuclear plant and return full control of it to Ukraine.
“The world must have the appropriate tools to put Russia in conditions when the terrorist country will be forced to stop its terrorism,” Zelenskyy added.
The IAEA report says there is an acute need for temporary measures to ensure nuclear safety at the ZNPP – including establishing a secure zone around the power plant.
The initial IAEA delegation arrived at the ZNPP, located in the Russian-occupied town of Enerhodar in Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Oblast, on Sept. 1. A group of specialists led by IAEA chief Raphael Grossi spent several hours at the facility. According to the IAEA chief, two members of the agency are to remain permanently at the plant.
The ZNPP is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and has been illegally occupied by Russian forces since March 4. The station’s Ukrainian employees are currently being held captive by invading Russian forces.
Russian troops are known to have set up firing positions at the ZNPP and have regularly shelled Ukrainian cities from them. Ukrainian state nuclear power company Energoatom has reported that the Russian military placed more than a dozen pieces of military equipment, including ammunition, weapons, and explosives in the turbine hall of the first reactor of the plant.
Video of IAEA inspectors at the plant later confirmed the presence of the Russian military equipment inside the plant’s buildings.
The invaders also brought additional armored personnel carriers and special trucks to the repair area of the station on Aug. 22.
In total, more than 40 units of Russian military equipment have been placed on the grounds of the facility.
After Russian shelling caused a fire at ZNPP, on Sept. 5 the facility’s last remaining operational reactor was disconnected from Ukraine’s power grid.