IAEA reports "powerful explosions" near Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southern Ukraine reported more than a dozen "powerful explosions" were heard near the nuclear plant Saturday night and Sunday morning, Rafael Grossi, IAEA's director general, said Sunday.
Why it matters: The explosions near the plant, which is Europe's largest nuclear power station, were from apparent shelling and ended a period of relative peace at the facility, the director said.
- The IAEA said no causalities were reported, but information provided by the team managing the plant indicated that "buildings, systems and equipment" at the site were damaged — none of which were critical for the plant's safety or security.
- It said members of its team at the plant "could also see some of the explosions from their windows."
What they're saying: “The news from our team yesterday and this morning is extremely disturbing. Explosions occurred at the site of this major nuclear power plant, which is completely unacceptable," Grossi said.
- Grossi did not attribute the explosions to either Russia or Ukraine, saying, "Whoever is behind this, it must stop immediately. As I have said many times before, you’re playing with fire!”
- The director again called on Russia and Ukraine to establish a nuclear safety and security zone around the plant "as soon as possible."
The big picture: Both countries had previously agreed to work with the IAEA on the safety zone but efforts to establish one have so far been unsuccessful.
- The facility has been held by Russia since its forces seized it by force in March.
- Shelling had been happening at Zaporizhzhia since early August but had recently calmed.
- Russian military personnel and equipment have been stationed near the plant since the takeover despite calls from over 40 countries to remove them.
- Russia had also briefly kidnapped and later released at least two of the plant's senior officials since the start of its occupation of the facility.
- Energoatom, Ukraine's nuclear power plant operator, has said the kidnappings were intended to extract information about the Ukrainian personnel at the plant.