Russia, Ukraine Trade Accusations Over Major Nuclear Plant

Jul 7, 2023

People are more worried about Europe's biggest nuclear plant's safety this week. Both Russia and Ukraine are saying the other one wants to damage the Zaporizhzhia plant in southern Ukraine. 

As these arguments wear on, the United Nations has asked for better access to check the plant. But experts said there's no proof that bombs or mines are at the plant. Russia took over the nuclear plant in March 2022 right after the war began. Ukraine said Russia is threatening to blow it up. 

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned that fights near the plant could be dangerous. Each country blames the other for firing shells that broke power lines. These lines are needed to keep the plant's reactors cool and prevent a nuclear meltdown. 

Ukraine said that Russia put explosives on the plant's roofs. But IAEA inspectors haven't seen "any visible signs" of this, according to an IAEA statement. 

British intelligence officials said in April that satellite photos showed "sandbag fighting positions" on the tops of some of the plant's six reactor buildings. Russia has taken control of the plant and now says the plant is theirs. 

Warnings about the plant got stronger after the Nova Kakhovka dam was blown up last month. This is a big dam along the Dnieper River in Ukraine. That incident killed twelve people and caused a flood in the river basin

US officials said they don't see an immediate threat to the plant. They're watching the situation “very, very closely,” though. 

Photo from Reuters.

Reflect: What steps do you think should be taken to ensure the safety of nuclear power plants during times of conflict?

According to details in the article, Russia and Ukraine disagree about _______. (Common Core RI.5.9; RI.6.9)
a. the role of the IAEA
b. who is responsible for attempts to damage the nuclear plant
c. what British officials found with satellite photos
d. who is in charge of the nuclear power plant now
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