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UN Security Council meets urgently after Russian attacks

We can no longer “count on good luck” to avoid a nuclear accident in Zaporizhia, says IAEA director

Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), speaks to reporters after the IAEA Board of Governors meeting at the agency’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on November 16, 2022. (Credit: JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Negotiations with Kyiv and Moscow on the establishment of a security zone around the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant continue, but meanwhile, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog warns of possible consequences.

“We can no longer count on good luck to avoid a nuclear accident,” the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, told CNN on Wednesday.

Grossi said negotiations are “advancing” but “this is an active combat zone, so getting to the agreed parameters for this is not such an easy thing to do.”

The IAEA director said he met with a Russian delegation in Turkey on Wednesday and spoke with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Tuesday.

“I am having consultations with both. I would not agree with the assessment that we are not making progress, I think so,” Grossi said. “Of course, we are talking about something that is very difficult. This is war. This is the real war and the protection zone that I am proposing is precisely on the front line, on the line where both adversaries are in contact”.

“But we are moving forward, I think, and I hope that episodes as traumatic as the ones of last weekend, paradoxically, help us to move forward, in the sense that people must realize that we cannot continue to count on good luck to avoid a nuclear accident,” he said.

When asked who is “playing with fire,” referencing Grossi’s own comments on Sunday after powerful explosions rocked the nuclear power plant on Saturday and Sunday, Grossi said “it’s very difficult for us to identify from within the plant who is doing that” and, he added, “by the way, our main goal is to stop this, not to get into an attribution game.”

Later this Wednesday, the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant “once again lost access to external electricity” and instead relied on its standby diesel generators for the power it needs to cool the reactor and other essential functions. the IAEA said in a statement.

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