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The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

Russia Using Nuclear Power Plant as Military Shield in Ukraine, Causing ‘Grave’ Danger, Officials Say

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The situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine is “extremely grave and dangerous,” as Russia is using the plant as a military shield, Western officials said.

‘Every principle of safety has been violated one way or the other,” said Rafael Grossi, who heads the International Atomic Energy Agency. “And we cannot allow that to continue. What is at stake is extremely serious and extremely grave and dangerous.” Grossi made his remarks while speaking Tuesday to a news outlet.

Russia is using the plant as a military shield in Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told listeners at the United Nations on Aug. 1 while addressing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York. 

“Russia is now using the plant as a military base to fire at Ukrainians, knowing that they can’t and won’t shoot back because they might accidentally strike a nuclear – a reactor or highly radioactive waste in storage,” Blinken said. “That brings the notion of having a human shield to an entirely different and horrific level.”

Envoys from Russia denied the charges, and said that Russian forces captured the nuclear power plant in order to stop Ukraine from using it to stage a nuclear attack on Russia. 

“The United States believes that all nuclear-armed states have a duty to act responsibly,” Blinken said. “We’ve chosen to act with restraint and avoid actions that could unintentionally add to nuclear tensions – for example, by forgoing previously scheduled ICBM tests and not raising the alert status of our nuclear forces in response to Russian saber-rattling.”

Grossi cited many violations of the plant’s safety, saying that the physical integrity of the plant hasn’t been respected.

There is ‘a paradoxical situation’ in which Russia controls the site, but Ukrainian staff members run the nuclear operations. This, he said, has lead to conflict at the site.

Blinken condemned the use of nuclear threats overall.

“There is no place in our world – no place in our world – for nuclear deterrence based on coercion, intimidation, or blackmail,” he said. “We have to stand together in rejecting this.”

About Susan Katz Keating

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