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UN chief calls for demilitarized zone around Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-09-07 14:26

Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres speaks during a UN Security Council meeting on the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine at the United Nations Headquarters on Sept 6, 2022 in New York City. [Photo/Agencies]

UNITED NATIONS - United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called for a demilitarized zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, to prevent a nuclear catastrophe in the Chornobyl-affected nation.

Addressing a Security Council meeting on the situation in the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the top UN official endorsed the recommendations made by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi, who inspected the occupied Zaporizhzhia plant last week and presented a report to the Security Council.

In the first instance, Guterres told the council that all military operations around the plant should cease.

"As a second step, an agreement on a demilitarized perimeter should be secured," he said. "Specifically, this would include a commitment by the Russian military to withdraw military personnel and equipment from that perimeter, and a commitment by Ukrainian forces not to enter."

"We are playing with fire and something very disastrous could happen. That is why in our report, we are proposing the establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone confined to the periphery and the plant," Grossi told the council via video link.

The IAEA, UN's nuclear watchdog, urged an immediate end to shelling around Europe's largest nuclear power plant, according to the report.

"This requires agreement by all relevant parties to the establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone" around the plant, it said.

The IAEA mission, headed by Grossi, worked at the plant from Sept 1-5, and Grossi told reporters on Friday that two of the agency's experts would remain permanently at the nuclear power plant.

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