The IAEA director-general, who returned from Ukraine, said he was “concerned” about the Russian-controlled nuclear power plant in Zaporijjia, to which the UN body has not had access since the invasion.
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“This is at the top of my list of concerns when it comes to the situation of the nuclear facilities in Ukraine,” said Rafael Grossi at a press conference at the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna.
The site “is still under Russian control, the Ukrainian inspectorate has no control, but we need to complete a certain number of tasks as soon as possible, both from an inspection, surveillance and security perspective,” he said.
“We must return to Zaporijjia, it is extremely important,” stressed the head of the IAEA.
Against this background, he held talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his visit.
“Our consultations will continue, especially with Ukraine, but also with Russia,” he said, referring to a meeting with Russian officials “in a few days”.
Asked about the low-altitude missiles overflying the site earlier this week, Mr Grossi said he had “received videos”, according to Ukrainian authorities. “We are investigating, but if such a development were confirmed, it would be very serious.”
He also referred to the situation in Chernobyl, where he traveled on Tuesday, 36 years to the day after the worst civilian nuclear disaster in history.
He then assessed the radioactivity as “in the normal range,” comments he repeated on Thursday.
The troops dispatched from Moscow, who seized the plant on February 24, the first day of the Russian invasion, moved vehicles, equipment and dug trenches in this contaminated land, “which of course caused an increase in radiation.
“But the situation does not pose a major threat to the environment and people,” said Rafael Grossi.
A Chernobyl reactor exploded in 1986, contaminating much of Europe, particularly Ukraine, Russia and Belarus. Classified as a “restricted zone” within a 30-kilometer radius of the facility, the area is still heavily contaminated and it is forbidden to stay there.
Ukraine has 15 reactors in four operating plants, in addition to waste storage sites such as Chernobyl.