China 'deeply concerned' by situation at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant: envoy
Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, on Thursday said that China is "deeply concerned" by the recent shelling on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.
"We call on the parties concerned to exercise restraint, act with caution, refrain from any action that may compromise nuclear safety and security, and spare no effort to minimize the possibility of accidents," he told a UN Security Council briefing.
Zhang chaired Thursday's meeting on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as president of the Security Council for the month of August.
Speaking in his national capacity, the envoy said that the shelling did not pose an immediate threat to nuclear safety, and the radiation level remained normal, citing information obtained by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from Ukraine's nuclear regulator.
"Nevertheless, the shelling did cause damage to the physical integrity of the plant, its safety and security system, power supply and personnel safety, which sounded a nuclear alarm to the international community," he said.
Ukraine and Russia have exchanged accusations over shelling the Zaporizhzhia plant, which generates a quarter of Ukraine's total electricity.
Zhang pointed out that if a large scale accident occurs at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, one of the largest such plants in Europe, the consequences would be more devastating than that of the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan.
The leakage of massive quantities of radioactive materials caused by the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the resulting nuclear-contaminated water have far-reaching consequences for the marine environment, food safety, and human health, thereby sparking widespread interests and concerns, he said.
"China does not want to see the same risks playing out again," he said.
While urging the parties concerned to exercise restraint, the envoy expressed hope that existing obstacles can be cleared as soon as possible, so that the planned mission to the Zaporizhzhia plant by IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi and the agency's team of experts can materialize without delay.
He noted that Russia has undertaken to provide necessary assistance to the visit, and Ukraine, in a recent letter to Grossi and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, also underscored the increasing necessity of organizing such a visit.
The Ukraine crisis has been dragging on for over five months. The security risks posed by the conflict to nuclear facilities are looming large throughout, Zhang said.
"Only by defusing the situation and restoring peace at an early date, can we fundamentally remove nuclear risks, reduce misjudgment, and avoid accidents," he said.
The envoy called on all parties concerned to resume negotiations as early as possible, seek a solution to the Ukraine crisis in a cool-headed and rational fashion, address each other's legitimate security concerns, and build a balanced, effective and sustainable security architecture, so as to achieve common security.
He reaffirmed China's consistent position that the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be upheld, and countries' sovereignty and territorial integrity be respected.
"We call upon all parties in the international community to act responsibly to facilitate a proper solution of the crisis, and step up political and diplomatic efforts in order to create conditions for the parties concerned to return to the negotiating table. China will continue its constructive role in this regard," said Zhang.