Speed Reads

A Tense Situation

Europe's largest power plant at risk of nuclear accident, Russian officials say

The head of Rosatom, Russia's state-run atomic energy agency, reportedly said Monday that continued shelling near Europe's largest power plant had raised the probability of a nuclear accident, according to Reuters

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, a Ukrainian facility that has been occupied by invading Russian forces since March, has reportedly been subjected to renewed shelling in recent days. As a result, Rosatom CEO Alexei Likhachev was quoted by Russian news agency Interfax as saying that Zaporizhzhia was "at risk of a nuclear accident," per Reuters. Likhachev added that he had been in negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Rosatom has controlled Zaporizhzhia since Russian President Vladimir Putin formally seized the plant in October, and all Ukrainian staff was reportedly removed.

Both Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of the shelling, and the IAEA also weighed in on the possibility of a nuclear disaster at Zaporizhzhia. Rafael Grossi, the head of the commission, said that whoever was attacking the plant was "playing with fire," CNN reported. "Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately," Grossi added. 

While the shelling has reportedly not directly targeted Zaporizhzhia itself, Grossi said in a separate statement, "Even though there was no direct impact on key nuclear safety and security systems at the plant, the shelling came dangerously close to them."

The IAEA has called for a security zone to be placed around the plant, though Likhachev said any such zone would need the approval of the United States.