UN Glad Moscow Kept IAEA Team Safe in Zaporizhzhia

The UN is glad for the Russian Federation’s efforts to keep safe the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team that came to inspect the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the UN Secretary-General’s chief spokesman said in the daily briefing.

Stephane Dujarric pointed out that Russia did what it needed to do to keep their inspectors safe, noting it’s the responsibility of those who control a certain area to keep the UN staff safe, also thanking the security people for the tremendous job of getting the IAEA team safely in and out of the Zaporizhzhia.

Earlier on Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry said it is “bewildered” at the lack of UN reaction on Thursday to the Ukrainian attempt to seize the facility by force, in order to use the Mission as a human shield.

The Ministry cited the Russian military’s report that Russian troops and National Guard forces have intercepted and neutralized multiple Ukrainian saboteur groups that have crossed the Kakhovka Reservoir in speedboats and barges near the plant shortly before IAEA team, including the organization’s head, Rafael Grossi, arrived for an inspection.

Following the highly publicized inspection, Grossi said that the UN nuclear watchdog is not going anywhere and will have a continued presence” at the plant, leaving a team of five inspectors at the site.

IAEA chief believes that the prolonged presence of the IAEA mission there would likely help to stave off the possibility of a dangerous nuclear accident, noting, however, that it’s not entirely clear what that continued presence might look like.  

Although the Ukrainians have demanded – with President Volodymyr Zelensky being the most vocal in demands- that the IAEA presses for the demilitarization of the area around the nuclear power plant, IAEA showed no sign of addressing that issue since such a move would be beyond the agency’s limited mandate.

Grossi emphasized the technical nature of the visit, stressing that the so-called “seven pillars” of IAEA’s framework include the physical integrity of facilities, their safety systems, secure off-site power supply, effective radiation monitoring systems, and reliable communications with the regulator.

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