Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, seen from the town of Nikopol on November 7. (Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters/FILE)

Negotiations with Kyiv and Moscow on the establishment of a safety zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant continue — but in the meantime the director of the UN nuclear watchdog is warning about potential consequences.

“We cannot continue counting on good luck to avoid a nuclear accident,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi told CNN on Wednesday.

Grossi said negotiations are “moving forward” but “this is an active combat zone, therefore getting to agreed parameters for this is not such an easy thing to do.”

The IAEA director said he met with a Russian delegation in Turkey earlier Wednesday and spoke with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Tuesday.

“I am having consultations with both. I would not agree with the assessment that we are not making any progress, I think we are,” Grossi said. “Of course, we are talking about something which is very difficult. This is war. This is real war and the protection zone that I am proposing is precisely on the front line, on the line where both adversaries are in contact.”

“But we are moving forward I believe, and I hope that episodes as traumatic as the ones this past weekend may paradoxically help us move forward, in the sense that people need to realize that we cannot continue counting on good luck to avoid a nuclear accident,” he said. 

When asked who is “playing with fire,” referencing Grossi’s own remarks from Sunday following powerful explosions that rocked the nuclear power plant Saturday and Sunday, Grossi said “it is very difficult for us to identify from inside the plant who is doing that,” adding “by the way, our main goal is to get this to stop, not to get into a game of attribution.” 

Later on Wednesday, the plant “once again lost access to external electricity” and was instead relying on its emergency diesel generators for the power it needs for reactor cooling and other essential functions, IAEA said in a statement.