IAEA Board calls on Russia to leave Zaporizhzhia, two years on

IAEA expert mission visits Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

VIENNA (Reuters) - The U.N. nuclear watchdog's Board of Governors voted on Thursday to demand Russia withdraw from Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), in a resolution passed days after the two-year anniversary of the plant's capture by Russian troops.

It was the board's fourth resolution condemning Russia's actions against Ukrainian nuclear facilities. The first was passed in March 2022, the day before Russia captured Europe's largest nuclear plant. The last was in November 2022.

"Resolution has been adopted by the majority of votes," Ukraine's mission to the International Atomic Energy Agency said on X.

The text adopted late on Thursday said the board called "for the urgent withdrawal of all unauthorized military and other unauthorized personnel from Ukraine's ZNPP and for the plant to be immediately returned to the full control of the competent Ukrainian authorities".

The board also "reiterates its grave concern that the Russian Federation has not heeded the previous calls ... to withdraw its military and other personnel from the ZNPP", it said.

The plant is near the front line in territory Moscow claims to have annexed from Ukraine. All six of its reactors are shut down, but it still needs constant power to keep fuel in those reactors cool and prevent a potentially catastrophic meltdown.

At this week's quarterly meeting of the 35 member-state board, delegates have shown support for Ukraine by dressing in its national colours, blue and yellow, or displaying them with lanyards, ribbons or flowers.

The IAEA, which has a small number of staff at Zaporizhzhia, says safety there remains precarious.

In the past 18 months the plant has been cut off from external power eight times, forcing it to rely on diesel generators. Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for shelling that has downed power lines.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Peter Graff)