An attack on a nuclear power plant in Ukraine caused a fire at a building in the compound. While Russia denies striking the power station, multiple sources including the Ukrainian authorities say the Russian military shelled the plant. Even the slightest error could have caused a calamity endangering all humanity.
There is no precedent for an attack on an operating nuclear plant. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has realized such a situation, and we strongly condemn the Russian government.
We cannot allow nuclear stations to be attacked. A direct hit on a reactor will scatter radioactive materials across a wide area. If the facility’s external power sources necessary for cooling fuel are lost to a fire or other factors, a nuclear meltdown could occur.
Because of this, the Geneva Conventions establishing international standards for civilian protection in war prohibit attacks on nuclear plants and other structures “if such attack may cause the release of dangerous forces.” The latest strike clearly violates international humanitarian law.
The Zaporizhzhia plant in south Ukraine which was hit has six reactors and is among Europe’s largest nuclear power stations. Some experts predict a serious accident such as an explosion would trigger damage at least 10 times the scale of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
That the international community has been unified in voicing concerns over the unprecedented attack shows the situation’s gravity. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed a grave sense of crisis, accusing Russia of “directly threatening the safety of all of Europe.”
Russia’s seizure of the Zaporizhzhia plant during the ongoing invasion follows its takeover of the Chernobyl plant. Ukraine has three more operating nuclear power stations. The International Atomic Energy Agency has adopted a resolution demanding Moscow let Ukraine regain full control over all of its nuclear facilities.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered his nuclear deterrent forces to be on high alert. He frequently makes threatening remarks about his country’s nuclear capabilities, such as calling Russia a major nuclear power. His behavior is nothing but dangerous.
We must not allow another situation like the one at Zaporizhzhia plant where a nuclear power plant becomes a battlefield. To make the Russian military retreat from Ukrainian territories, the international community must increase unified pressure on Moscow.