A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is on its way to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which has been the target of strikes in recent weeks, the agency’s chief Rafael Grossi announced on Monday in a message on Twitter.
Grossi said that the IAEA’s Support and Assistance Mission to Zaporizhzhya would arrive at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant later this week to assess the damage caused by the recent shelling near the plant, evaluate the conditions in which staff is working and determine the functionality of safety & security systems in the plant.
Warning of the very real risk of a nuclear disaster, the International Atomic Energy Agency chief has for months been asking to be able to visit the nuclear plant.
Grossi’s tweet was accompanied by a photo showing Gross with his team of 13 people in caps and sleeveless jackets bearing the nuclear watchdog’s logo.
His upcoming visit to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant was welcomed by the G7’s Non-Proliferation Directors’ Group which has reiterated concerns about the plant’s safety under the control of Russian armed forces.
The group stressed in its statement that Moscow’s attempts to disconnect the plant from the Ukrainian power grid would be unacceptable, noting that both the plant and the electricity that it produces rightly belong to Ukraine.
The plant was cut off from Ukraine’s national power grid between Thursday and Friday – the first time in its four-decade history – due to Russian troops’ actions, said its Ukraine operator Energoatom, which after the new strikes on Saturday warned of the risk of radioactive leaks and fire.
After the initial fears that an IAEA visit would legitimize the Russian occupation of the site, Ukraine finally supported the idea of a mission.
Russia’s permanent representative to the international organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, said on Monday that Moscow also welcomes the upcoming IAEA mission, noting that Russia had made a significant contribution to the visit.
The French presidency informed on August 20 that after a call with French President Emmanuel Macron, Russian President Vladimir Putin had agreed that the IAEA team of independent inspectors could travel to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant via Ukraine.