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‘Suicidal act’: UN warns over latest shelling on Ukrainian nuclear power plant

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gestures as he attends a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon, December 21, 2021. (File photo by Reuters)

A huge shelling over Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine has raised concerns over nuclear threats, with the United Nations warning that any attack on a nuclear plant is “suicidal.”

Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo on Monday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the nuclear confrontation risk is back after decades, calling on the nuclear-armed countries “to commit to the principle of non-first use.”

Moscow and Kiev have been blaming each other for the latest strike at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, which has been under Russian control since the early days of the war.

Authorities at the Zaporizhzhia plant, located near the city of Enerhodar, said a strike by Ukrainian forces on Sunday damaged administrative buildings inside the complex.

“The Ukrainian army carried out an attack with a cluster bomb fired from an Uragan rocket launcher.”

Russia’s TASS news agency cited authorities as saying the projectiles fell within 400 meters of a working reactor. They said the strike inflicted damage on some administrative buildings and fell in a “zone storing used nuclear fuel.”

The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has also raised the alarm over “the very real risk of a nuclear disaster.”

Guterres condemned such attacks and said that the UN “supports the IAEA on their efforts in relation to creating the conditions of stabilization of that plant.”

His comments came in the wake of his visit to Hiroshima over the weekend, where he delivered a speech to mark the 77th anniversary of the world’s first nuclear bomb attack.

Also on Saturday, Guterres said the signals over military nuclear actions are flashing red and noted that the only solution to the nuclear threat is not to have nuclear weapons at all.

UN secretary general warned that “humanity is playing with a loaded gun” as crises with the potential for nuclear disaster proliferate worldwide.

Meanwhile, asked about China’s military drills around Taiwan, sparked by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the self-ruled island, Guterres said the UN “abides by a resolution of the General Assembly, the so-called One China policy.”

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