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Editorial: Russia holding world hostage with seizure of nuclear plants

  • March 9, 2022
  • , The Japan Times
  • English Press

Russia must immediately stop attacking and occupying nuclear power plants and related facilities in Ukraine.

 

These are acts of unprecedented folly that endanger the human race and the global environment.

 

Nuclear facilities in Ukraine have been subjected to attacks by Russian forces and put under their control.

 

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the site of the 1986 disaster, and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, one of the largest facilities in Europe, have been taken over by Russia. A research facility handling nuclear materials has also been attacked.

 

Footage has been released of the interior of the Zaporizhzhia plant where a Russian attack triggered a fire.

 

It was chilling to hear the voice of a worker, shouting over the PA system, “Stop shooting” and “This is endangering the entire world.”

Reactor buildings were reportedly undamaged, but that is small comfort.

 

Had a reactor cooling system been damaged, a meltdown could have occurred as they did at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Radioactive substances could have spread from a spent nuclear fuel storage pool.

 

The Geneva Conventions, a set of international humanitarian standards in place during military conflicts, clearly say nuclear power plants should not be attacked because a nuclear catastrophe can impact the entire Earth and endanger humanity for generations.

 

Russia deserves the severest condemnation for repeatedly violating international laws through its war of aggression.

 

The U.N. Security Council convened an emergency session because of the extreme gravity of an attack on a nuclear power plant.

Our worries are certainly not over.

 

Communications have been severed between the Zaporizhzhia plant and the outside world, and the plant’s operating staff has been ordered to report to the Russian military. At Chernobyl, the replacement of staff is reportedly being delayed.

 

A nuclear power plant cannot be operated without a rotating roster of workers with expert knowledge who can deal with an emergency.

 

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is demanding that Russia return administrative authority to Ukraine. Russia should comply immediately.

 

Russia probably has a tactical plan to take control of Ukraine’s power supply infrastructure.

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has begun accusing the Ukrainian government of plotting to develop nuclear weapons.

 

Putin may be trying to arouse suspicions to justify his invasion, but the IAEA has dismissed them out of hand.

 

The developments have alarmed Japanese local governments that host nuclear power plants.

 

Japanese and U.S. nuclear power plants are said to be built with sufficient rigidity to withstand a plane crash. But being attacked in a war is a scenario that has never been considered.

 

The terrifying anomaly of an armed forces of a nuclear superpower attacking another country’s nuclear power plant has brought to light the sheer depth of the danger inherent in nuclear facilities.

 

Now is the time to seriously re-examine their safety.

 

For Japan, a victim of wartime nuclear attacks that is still wrestling with the consequences of its 2011 nuclear accident, its responsibility is to lead the global debate.

 

–The Asahi Shimbun, March 9

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