The head of International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA), Raphael Grossi, said Thursday that the UN agency “will stay” at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plantcontrolled by Moscow, in southern Ukraine.
“The IAEA stays here. Let the world know that the IAEA remains in Zaporizhzhia”said Rafael Grossi, who is leading an inspection of the plant, in a video published by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti. He did not specify how many people will stay or for how long.
Grossi also stated that saw “what he needed to see” on Thursday’s visit to the Ukrainian nuclear power planttarget of bombing in recent weeks.
“I think that in these few hours we were able to collect a lot of information. I saw the main things I needed to see and his explanations were very clear.”Grossi said in statements to Russian media.
The team of the IAEA arrived this Thursday at the nuclear plant, the largest in Europe, which has been in the midst of clashes between Ukrainian and Russian forces since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine six months ago.
The Ukrainian state operator energy said Thursday that Russian mortars caused one of the plant’s reactors to shut down and damaged a backup power line used for internal needs. One of the plant’s reactors that was not working was switched to diesel generators.Enerhoatom said.
Ukraine and Russia blame each other for heavy shelling that temporarily delayed the movement of equipment to the plant located on the banks of the Dnieper River, in an area controlled by Russian forces. The fighting underscored the risks for the UN inspection team on the ground.
“There has been increased military activity, including this morning until very recently”Grossi said earlier, adding that after being briefed by the Ukrainian military, they decided to go ahead despite the risks. “Weighing the pros and cons and having come this far, we’re not going to stop.”
Grassi personally negotiated with the Ukrainian authorities to allow the team to pass.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that some Ukrainian shells fell 400 meters from Reactor 1. For its part, kyiv accuses Russian forces of bombing the town of Energodar and a corridor through which the IAEA team had to pass to reach the plant.
Neither version could be independently verified.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow expected “impartiality” from the team.
Practically since the war began on February 24, the Zaporizhzhia plant remains occupied by Russian forcesbut the Ukrainian engineers operate. Ukraine alleges that Russia is using it as a shield, storing weapons there and launching attacks around it, while Moscow accuses kyiv of recklessly firing in the area.
Fighting in early March sparked a brief fire in the plant’s training area and, in recent days, it has been temporarily taken offline due to damage, raising fears of a radioactive leak or a reactor meltdown. The authorities have started distributing iodine tablets, which would help against radiation, to people living in the surrounding area.
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