After a dramatic operation, UN inspectors at the International Atomic Energy Agency are now stationed at the Russian-occupied nuclear power plant on the frontline in southern Ukraine. On Friday evening, the inspectors told what they saw – so far.
– We have now established a permanent presence at the Zaporizjzja power plant, says Rafael Mariano Grossi at the International Atomic Energy Agency at a press conference this evening.
The International Atomic Energy Agency considers the presence of its own crews in the region a stabilizing factor.
It has tremendous value and makes an important difference in how this has happened so far. Grossi says the IAEA is there now – day and night.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency held a press conference after he himself exited the Russian-controlled area on Friday.
Five inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) continued their work until Friday at the largest nuclear power plant in Europe in the Zaporizhzhya region in southern Ukraine.
– We got everything we asked to see. If I wanted to get in somewhere, Grossi says, I said so — and we got to see him.
While armed Russian soldiers stand guard, the inspectors tried to determine:
- What is the condition of the facility in general?
- How was the facility affected by the war?
- What are the backup solutions in case of power and water outages? Without access to electricity and water, the cooling needed for nuclear reactors would not work, which could lead to a very dangerous meltdown.
- How are 9,000 Ukrainian workers in the factory treated?
Get an overview: The battle for the nuclear power plant on the front line
International inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, who are supposed to make sure nations operate nuclear power plants responsibly, have in recent days moved cautiously between two different narratives:
The Russians want to convey to the outside world that Ukrainian forces are attacking the facility and endangering its residents.
For their part, the Ukrainians claim that the Russians are using the factory as a military base and mistreating the workers.
On Friday, Ukrainian forces confirmed that they had carried out targeted attacks against Enerhodar and the neighboring Kherson province. According to the Ukrainians, three artillery systems and an ammunition depot were hit.
On Thursday, the inspectors crossed the front line between Ukrainian and Russian forces, although hostilities continued near the UN convoy.
The process of arriving and inspecting the facility has been described as one of the most demanding tasks in the history of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
In recent weeks, fear of a nuclear disaster has increased in line with the fighting in the area around the plant. A number of experts have long indicated that the facility is not designed to withstand direct military attacks.
According to the plan, the IAEA was supposed to be there for a few days, but now two employees of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant will remain on a permanent basis.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, attended the visit on the first day. On Thursday, he said the IAEA hopes to have a permanent presence at the power plant.
He said the experts could hear the sounds of hostilities on their way to the nuclear power plant.
Heavy machine guns, artillery and mortars two or three times. I would say that made us all very anxious.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accuses the Russians of taking experts on a worthless “power plant tour”.
“Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer.”