STORY: Shelling near Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant, in southern Ukraine, has stirred alarm among local officials, the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Ukraine has in recent days warned of the risk of a Chernobyl-style nuclear disaster…
And on Thursday, Ukraine’s interior minister said they had to be ready for any scenario at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia plant.
"There are plans that consider every possible development of the situation, including discharge (emission) of radiation. That’s why our plans include the evacuation from nearby settlements. I want to remind that this is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. It has 6 energy blocks. Of course, it's difficult to even imagine the scale of the tragedy which could come into effect if Russians continue their actions there."
Russia seized the plant in March. It’s still run by its Ukrainian technicians, but officials say those workers are not allowed into certain areas to do their job properly.
And on Thursday, Moscow and Kyiv blamed each other for a renewed shelling.
Ukrainian president Vlodomir Zelenskiy on Thursday strongly condemned, what he called, Russia's 'nuclear terrorism'.
“Russia has become a terrorist country and is holding nuclear power stations hostage, blackmailing everyone with a potential disaster."
U.N. chief Antonio Guterres urgently called for a demilitarized zone around the plant.
A call echoed by IAEA chief Rafael Grossi, who briefed the 15-member UN Security Council on Thursday at the request of Russia.
“These military actions near such a large nuclear facility could lead to very serious consequences.”
Russia's U.N. Ambassador urged IAEA representatives to visit the plant as soon as possible, saying the world was being pushed "to the brink of nuclear catastrophe, comparable in scale with Chernobyl."