UN chief criticizes ‘suicidal’ attacks on Ukraine nuclear plant

UN chief criticizes ‘suicidal’ attacks on Ukraine nuclear plant

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United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday called recent attacks on a nuclear power plant in Ukraine that is the largest in Europe “suicidal.”

“Any attack to a nuclear plant is a suicidal thing, and I hope that those attacks will end,” Guterres said in a press conference in Japan.

Both sides of the Ukraine-Russia conflict blame each other for shelling over the weekend that targeted the city of Nikopol, located across the river from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Ukraine has called for a demilitarized zone around the plant.

Ukraine says the shelling near Zaporizhzhia damaged radiation sensors and hurt a worker. Russia has held the area around the plant since March, after which international authorities like the International Atomic Energy Agency have reported having contact and oversight of the plant cut off.

“We fully support the IAEA in all their efforts in relation to create the conditions of stabilization of the plant,” Guterre s said, adding that he hopes the nuclear watchdog gets access to the Zaporizhzhia plant.

Guterres also said during his remarks in Tokyo that he is “very worried” about prolonged conflict in Ukraine, which he sees “causing enormous suffering,” negatively impacting the global economy and stoking concerns about nuclear confrontation.

Guterres added that the world is “witnessing a radicalization in the geopolitical situation that makes the risk of a nuclear war again something we cannot completely forget.”

“This is the moment when the risk of a nuclear confrontation is back, something we have forgotten for decades,” the secretary-general said.

Guterres urged nuclear countries to commit to a U.N. non-first-use policy, under which countries pledge not to use nuclear weapons unless first attacked by another country’s nuclear weapons.

“Nobody can accept the idea that the new nuclear war could happen. This would be the destruction of the planet. And what is clear is if nobody uses for the first time, then there will be no nuclear war,” Guterres explained. He also urged nuclear-armed countries not to use or threaten nuclear war against countries without the weapons.

Updated at 9:39 a.m.

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