He International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is “deeply concerned” due to the increase in fighting around the Ukrainian atomic plant in Zaporizhzhya and the possible escalation that the expected Ukrainian counteroffensive could trigger on the spot.
The experts from the agency’s mission who are in Zaporizhzhia, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, “have heard bombings almost every day for the last week,” explains the IAEA director general, the Argentine Rafael Grossiin a statement published on the night of Friday to this Saturday.
Even at a certain point, international experts “were asked to look for a shelter“, Add.
Located in the eponymous oblast (province) of south-eastern Ukraine, the Zaporizhzhia plant (ZNPP) was occupied by Russian troops in March 2022.
Following Russia’s illegal annexation of the region in September, it is controlled by a corporation run by the Russian operator rosatomAlthough some Ukrainian technicians who have been offered new contracts remain at the plant.
The plant has been subjected to newspaper bombings which on several occasions have caused power cuts, during which the emergency supply with diesel generators was activated.
Although all reactors are shut down as a precaution, the IAEA believes that there is still a high risk of nuclear accidentTherefore, it has urged both parties to create a demilitarized zone around the facility.
The concern of the experts has increased due to the expected counteroffensive Ukraine to reclaim their territories.
“I saw clear signs of military preparations in the area when I visited the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant just over three weeks ago,” Grossi said in the statement.
“Since then, our on-site experts have frequently reported hearing gunshots, sometimes suggesting heavy shelling not far from the site. I am deeply concerned about the situation at the plant, ”he underlines.
There is also concern that a reduction in staff and the absence of necessary external contractors, as well as a lack of spare parts, are having a negative impact on the plant’s maintainability.
“Currently, ZNPP only has a quarter of its usual maintenance staff”, so “does not have a systematic program of maintenance and inspection in service”.
All of this “further underscores the serious nuclear security risks faced by the largest nuclear power plant in Europe during the military conflict, at a time when speculation is growing about imminent military offensives and counter-offensives in the southern region of Ukraine”, Grossi points out.
Ukrainian authorities reported on Wednesday that they shot down six drones launched by Russia against the province of Zaporizhzhia. Six of those devices were Iranian shaheds.
The shahed-136 are some self exploding drones of Iranian production that can be programmed to automatically fly to previously indicated GPS coordinates where they detonate their cargo.
The Russian drone industry was affected by the international sanctions which, together with the neutralization of numerous devices since the start of the war, has led Moscow to import these devices from Iran.
(With information from EFE and AFP)
The United States warned that “Putin’s war” is responsible for the expansion of NATO in Europe
The moment a Russian fighter plane bombed a city in their own country
Amid tensions with the European Union over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Lula da Silva arrived in Portugal
“Our own soldiers are bombing us”: how Russian propaganda affects Ukraine