Japanese experts seek wartime protection of nuclear facilities

A group of Japanese experts has called for a new international framework to protect nuclear facilities in times of war, amid serious concerns over the safety of nuclear power plants in Ukraine.

The group of experts on atomic energy and international law released their proposal on Friday to coincide with the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

It calls for a new system under which the International Atomic Energy Agency can consult with the warring parties and neighboring states on how to safeguard nuclear facilities.

The group is also seeking revisions to international treaties for a total ban on attacks against nuclear facilities, including those storing spent nuclear fuel.

The group is headed by Suzuki Tatsujiro, the deputy chief of Nagasaki University's Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition.

Suzuki says Japan has a duty to speak out globally on the subject, as a country that experienced the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Russian forces in Ukraine seized the Zaporizhzhia plant -- the largest nuclear power station in Europe. Shelling has repeatedly caused the plant to lose access to external electricity, which is necessary to cool the reactors.

The IAEA has been holding talks with Russia and Ukraine about a plan to designate a protection zone around the compound. But no agreement has been reached.