VIENNA    -   A joint statement from the European Union and 42 countries including the United States has called on Russia to immediately withdraw its forces from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in southern Ukraine.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned last week that parts of the plant had been knocked out due to recent attacks, risking an “unacceptable” potential radiation leak.

“We urge the Russian Federation to immediately withdraw its military forces and all other unauthorized personnel from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant,” said the joint statement, dated August 12 and published Monday to the website of the EU Delegation to the International Organizations in Vienna.

The withdrawal must take place “so that the operator and the Ukrainian authorities can resume their sovereign responsibilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and the legitimate operating staff can conduct their duties without outside interference, threat, or unacceptably harsh working conditions,” the statement said.

This would also “enable the IAEA to carry out its verification pursuant to Ukraine’s safeguards obligations under safe and secure conditions and in a timely manner.”

On Thursday, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said the “alarming” situation at the plant had reached a “grave hour,” as he called for an immediate inspection of the facility by international experts. The joint statement expressed support for the work of the IAEA and emphasized that “the deployment of Russian military personnel and weaponry at the nuclear facility is unacceptable and disregards the safety, security, and safeguards principles that all members of the IAEA have committed to respect.”