UN board calls on Russia to quit Ukrainian nuclear power plant

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LONDON — The UN atomic agency’s board of governors, made up of 35 countries, passed a resolution on Thursday calling on Moscow to immediately end its occupation of a Ukrainian nuclear power plant, where the bombardment of the facility and nearby areas in recent weeks has heightened fears of a possible radioactive disaster.

Poland and Canada proposed the resolution on behalf of Ukraine, which is not a member of the main decision-making body of the International Atomic Energy Agency. It passed with 26 votes. Russia and China voted against while seven Asian and African countries abstained.

The document took a markedly harsher tone than previous statements by Vienna-based IAEA officials, which were largely limited to calling for a “safe zone” around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. The resolution says the council “deplores the continued violent actions of the Russian Federation against nuclear facilities in Ukraine, including the forcible seizure of control of nuclear facilities.”

It urges Russia to “immediately cease all actions against and at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and any other nuclear facilities in Ukraine”. Russia seized radioactive waste facilities at Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986, at the start of the war, but then withdrew.

The resolution also calls on Russia to return control of the power plant to the Ukrainian authorities, adding that the presence of Russian troops at the plant greatly increases the risk of a nuclear accident. The plant continues to be operated by its Ukrainian staff concerned about the occupation, under conditions the IAEA has previously described as endangering the security of the site.

Russia’s permanent mission to international organizations in Vienna, including the IAEA, called the resolution “anti-Russian”.

“The Achilles’ heel of this resolution is that it does not say a word about the systematic bombing of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is the main problem for ensuring nuclear safety and security in the world,” said the Russian mission in a statement Thursday, according to the Russian agency Interfax.

“The reason is simple – the bombing is carried out by Ukraine, which Western countries support and protect in every possible way,” the statement added. Moscow and Kyiv have repeatedly accused each other of shooting in and around the plant.

The Russian mission noted the abstentions of seven Asian and African countries, including Burundi, Vietnam, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Senegal and South Africa.

“Most of humanity refused to support this project,” he said.

Ukrainian officials, for their part, hailed the resolution as proof of the IAEA’s “adequate response” to the situation around the crippled plant.

“The resolution of the IAEA Board of Governors, demanding that Russia decommission the Zaporizhzhia power plant, is a good example of an adequate response by an international institution to the actions of a terrorist country,” the Ukrainian minister wrote on Facebook. of Energy, Herman Halushchenko.

Halushchenko thanked the board for “calling everything by its proper name” and accused Moscow of unleashing “a hail of manipulative statements” around the situation at the plant.

He also expressed hope that the seven abstaining countries would revise their positions ahead of the IAEA’s general conference later this month.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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