Russia could blow up the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) after returning it to kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned on Saturday.

Zaporizhzhia, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, has long been a focal point in the Russia-Ukraine war, launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin last February. Both Ukrainian and Russian forces have battled for control of the plant, and fighting around it has raised concerns about the possibility of a nuclear explosion, which would have devastating consequences for the surrounding area. Ukraine last month launched a counteroffensive aimed at retaking occupied territory in the Zaporizhzhia region, and authorities warned of a possible Russian attack on the facility.

Zelensky issued a new warning on Saturday about a “serious threat” at the ZNPP.

“We know for sure that this was considered by the Russian Federation as one of the plans, so that later, when the station is handed over to us, we will remotely detonate it for release, and this is also very dangerous,” Zelensky said. , according to The Kyiv Independent.

Zelensky warns of serious nuclear threat
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a news conference in kyiv on Wednesday. Zelensky warned on Saturday that Russia could remotely detonate the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant after handing it over to Ukraine.
Yan Dobronosov/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images

He urged the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to “thoroughly” inspect the power plant if Russia chooses to hand over the plant to Ukraine.

Zelensky’s warning comes amid heightened concerns about the ZNPP. The Ukrainian president said last month that intelligence reports indicate Putin is considering launching a terror attack on the nuclear plant via a radiation leak. Ukraine has long accused Russia of arming the power plant in its “aggression”.

“We take all such reports very seriously and have instructed our on-site experts to investigate this matter and request the access they need to do their job. So far they have not observed any mines or other explosives. More access will still be required. “. necessary,” IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said on the IAEA website on Friday.

The IAEA has found no “visible indications of mines or other explosives” at the Zaporizhzhia plant, but experts still need “additional access to carry out further checks at the site,” according to a statement the organization sent to news week on Saturday.

“Intelligence has received information that Russia is considering a scenario of a terrorist attack at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. A terrorist attack with a radiation leak. They have prepared everything for this,” Zelensky said during a video address that was released. shared on social media Thursday. .

Moscow, however, has denied Zelensky’s allegations of a possible attack using the power plant, citing a “high assessment” by the IAEA.

“The nuclear safety and security situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is extremely fragile,” Grossi said Wednesday, who traveled to the plant last month. “Now more than ever, all parties must fully adhere to the basic IAEA principles designed to prevent a nuclear accident. We will intensify our efforts to help ensure nuclear safety while also providing assistance to the affected region in other ways. “.

news week contacted Zelensky’s office for comment by email.

Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate at the Defense Ministry said on Friday that Russia has been gradually reducing the number of staff at the plant, Reuters reported, and that three employees of Rosatom, a Russian state nuclear company, were among the first to leave. plant. .

In addition, the Associated Press reported Thursday that Ukraine held drills in the region to prepare for a potential radiation leak.

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