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U.N. nuclear conference to start Monday as Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya plant in “alarming” state, watchdog says

BY PAMELA FALK, JULY 29, 2022 / CBS NEWS United Nations — On Monday, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres will be among those expected to gather at United Nations headquarters in New York for the tenth annual review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The meeting comes as the IAEA is being denied U.N. help to access Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, the largest nuclear plant in Europe, which has been occupied by Russia since the early days of the war, and which the watchdog agency says is in an “alarming” state.

“It is urgent,” Grossi said in the latest IAEA report. “I’m continuing my determined efforts to agree and lead a safety, security and safeguards mission to the site as soon as possible.”

Ukraine’s nuclear power facilities at risk

Alarm bells went off, figuratively, in early March at the Vienna offices of the International Atomic Energy Agency, an autonomous agency within the U.N. system, when Russian forces took control of the Zaporizhzhya plant and Ukraine informed the agency that Ukrainian staff was operating the plant under Russian command………………………………………….

Most of the Russian delegation has received their visas to attend the conference, and a Ukrainian delegation will be present. Analysts say it will be an ideal time to map out a safety plan.

Ukraine’s nuclear power plants are a priority and “the range of bad scenarios is unnerving,” Richard Gowan, U.N. director for the International Crisis Group think-tank, told CBS News.

“Nuclear plants getting hit by missiles or artillery, nuclear material going missing, key workers unable to service the plants, it’s a long list,” Gowan said. “The fact that you have nuclear power stations right in the middle of a large-scale conventional war of attrition is unprecedented.”

On Monday, Grossi will be at U.N. Headquarters for two days to open the month-long conference, which will also deal with North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and the stalled Iran nuclear deal.

July 30, 2022 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, safety

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