December 6, 2022

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IAEA director says ‘good luck can no longer be relied upon’ to avoid nuclear accident in Zaporizhia

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Croce speaks to reporters after the IAEA Board of Governors meeting at the agency’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on November 16, 2022. (Credit: JOE KLAMAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Talks continue with Kyiv and Moscow on establishing a safety zone around the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, but in the meantime, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog is warning of possible consequences.

“We can no longer rely on luck to avoid a nuclear accident,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Croce told CNN on Wednesday.

The talks are “making progress” but “this is an active war zone, so achieving the agreed parameters for this is not going to be an easy task,” Croci said.

The IAEA director said he met the Russian delegation in Turkey on Wednesday and spoke with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Tuesday.

“I’ve been consulting with both of them. I don’t accept the assessment that we’re not making progress, I think so,” Grassi said. “Of course, we are talking about something very difficult. This is war. This is the real war and the defense zone that I propose is precisely the front line, the line where the two enemies come into contact.

“But we’re moving forward, I think, and I hope that traumatic episodes like last weekend, ironically, will help us move forward, people need to realize that we can’t continue to rely on good fortune to avoid a nuclear accident,” he said.

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“It’s very difficult for us to identify from inside the plant who is doing it,” Croci said, referring to his own comments on Sunday after the powerful explosions that rocked the nuclear plant on Saturday and Sunday. He added, “Our main goal is to stop this, not engage in the attribution game.”

Late this Wednesday, the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant “once again lost access to external electricity” and instead relies on its standby diesel generators for power needed to cool the reactor and other essential functions. The IAEA said in a statement.