The United Nations nuclear watchdog chief has voiced concerns over the security at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. The plant, which is one of the world’s largest, has seen significant staff cuts under Russian control, making its security situation delicate.
Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, revealed that the plant’s workforce has been reduced from around 12,000 to between 2,000 and 3,000. He stressed the importance of having enough staff to operate such a large facility. He said: “So far the situation is stable, but it is a very, very delicate equilibrium.”
Grossi’s visit to Ukraine coincided with a visit by Josep Borrell, the European Union‘s Foreign Affairs and Security Policy representative. Borrell said he was there to talk about military aid, financial support and Ukraine‘s wish to join the EU. The 27 EU countries agreed last week to give Ukraine 50 billion euros ($54 billion) to help its struggling economy. But the EU’s military support is not enough, leaving Ukraine‘s forces dealing with a lack of ammunition while Russia uses its economic power to keep up the pressure with ground and air attacks.
There are still questions about more help for Ukraine from the United States, its biggest supplier. This makes the early months of this year very important for Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has suggested he might make big changes to the country’s leadership to bring “fresh energy” to the fight.
The IAEA has often expressed worry about the Zaporizhzhia facility because of fears of a possible nuclear disaster. The plant has been in the middle of fighting since Russia started its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, and took over the facility shortly after. The plant’s six reactors have been shut down for months, but it still needs power and qualified staff to run important cooling systems and other safety features.