The UN nuclear agency’s board of governors on Thursday, Sep. 15, asked Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, two diplomats said, a move immediately praised by Ukraine.
The withdrawal of Russian troops from the power plant it has occupied since March has been a longstanding demand from Kyiv, who fears of a nuclear disaster if shelling continues around the plant.
The text, submitted by Canada and Poland, was approved by 26 of the 35 member states sitting on the Council of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
China and Russia voted against, while seven countries — Burundi, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Senegal, South Africa and Vietnam — abstained.
Ukraine energy minister German Galushchenko welcomed the decision in a Facebook post on Thursday.
Addressing the countries who abstained on the vote, he called on them to reconsider and to “stop Russia now” before someone else followed its example.
Richard Sadleir, Australia’s ambassador to Vienna, tweeted: “The (IAEA) Board of Governors has sent another strong message to Russia: cease immediately all actions threatening nuclear safety and security, and return the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and all other Ukrainian territory to control.”
Another diplomat confirmed the move.
The resolution supports the efforts of the IAEA which has been in talks with Russia and Ukraine over setting up a security zone around the nuclear plant.
Already in March, the IAEA passed a resolution warning about the “unprecedented danger of a nuclear accident” that would endanger not just the population of Ukraine but Europe as a whole.
The largest nuclear power plant in Europe has been a focal point of fighting in recent weeks, reviving fears of a nuclear incident.
A team of IAEA experts inspected the plant in early September.
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