UNITED NATIONS: In the wake of Russia's attack on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant in Ukraine, India on Friday cautioned that any accident involving nuclear facilities may have severe consequences for public health and the environment, while asserting that the UN Security Council "must acknowledge" the pressing humanitarian crisis confronting Ukraine.
"India attaches the highest importance to ensuring safety and security of nuclear facilities as any accident involving the nuclear facilities may have severe consequences for public health and the environment," India's Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti told the UN Security Council.
The 15-nation Council held an emergency session, called by Albania, France, Ireland, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States on Friday, following Russia's attack on the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Plant in southeastern Ukraine.
Tirumurti said India continues to carefully follow the developments regarding the safety and security of Ukraine's nuclear power reactors and facilities and added that India accords the highest priority to the discharge by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of its safeguards and monitoring activities, in accordance with its Statute in an effective, non-discriminatory and efficient manner.
"We have also noted the latest information available with regard to the nuclear power plants and facilities in Ukraine," including updates provided by the IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi on the current situation.
Tirumurti said while the Council discusses the nuclear dimension of an unfolding conflict, the UN body must acknowledge that there is a "pressing humanitarian crisis confronting us in Ukraine, where safety and security of innocent civilians including several thousand Indian nationals, in particular students are at stake."
He expressed hope that the second round of talks between Russia and Ukraine contributes to the immediate establishment of a safe humanitarian corridor.
Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo told the meeting that every effort should be taken to avoid a catastrophic nuclear incident.
"Military operations around nuclear sites and other critical civilian infrastructure are not only unacceptable but highly irresponsible.
Ukraine knows only too well the devastation a major nuclear accident can cause.
The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 stands as a lasting example of why it is vital to ensure all nuclear power plants have the highest standards of safety and security," DiCarlo said.
Tirumurti said it is "regrettable" that the situation in Ukraine has worsened further since the Security Council last convened on this matter last week.
Tirumurti reiterated that an "immediate cessation" of violence and end to all hostilities are essential.
He added that as reiterated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his conversations with global leaders, including of the Russian Federation and Ukraine, differences must be resolved through sustained dialogue and diplomacy.
"Commitment to the principles of the UN Charter, to international law and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states are key principles in this regard."