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09/04/24 | 11:29 am | Ukraine | US

US calls on Moscow to withdraw military from Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

The United States has called on Russia to withdraw its military and civilian personnel from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and restore full control to Ukraine.

During a routine US State Department briefing on Monday, spokesperson Matthew Miller said that the US is aware of the reports of a ‘drone attack’ on the power plant, and is monitoring the conditions there.

“Russia is playing a very dangerous game with its military seizure of Ukraine’s nuclear power plant, which is the largest in Europe”, he remarked.

“We urge Russia to withdraw its military and civilian personnel from the plant, relinquish control to the competent Ukrainian authorities, and avoid any actions that could lead to a nuclear incident at the facility.”

The dome above a decommissioned reactor at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear station, under Russian control, was reportedly hit on Sunday, according to the plant’s Russian-installed administration.

The specific weapon used in the strike remains unclear.

The Russian state-owned nuclear agency Rosatom initially reported the incident as a drone attack on the nuclear plant, which came under Russian control shortly after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Subsequently, Rosatom confirmed that three individuals were injured, primarily due to a drone strike near the facility’s canteen.

Plant officials confirmed that radiation levels remained within normal limits, and there was no significant damage following the attack.

Zaporizhzhia nuclear station, Europe’s largest nuclear power facility, houses six uranium-235 water-cooled and water-moderated VVER-1000 V-320 reactors, originally designed by the Soviet Union. The site also stores spent nuclear fuel.

According to plant authorities, reactors one, two, five, and six are in cold shutdown, reactor three is offline for maintenance, and reactor four is in a state known as “hot shutdown”.

Despite its strategic importance, the facility remains vulnerable due to its proximity to conflict zones. Both Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of targeting the plant, heightening concerns about a potential nuclear incident.

(With ANI inputs)

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