The IAEA plans to leave a permanent team of technicians to monitor the Zaporizhia plant
The group of inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), headed by its director, Rafael Grossi, arrived this Thursday at the Ukrainian nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia, located in the city of Energodar and whose security has been called into question as it is under the control of Russian troops and has been subjected to successive bombardments. In fact, the mutual accusations of attacks by parties trying to hinder progress towards the plant of the fourteen members that make up the delegation, came close to frustrating the mission.
However, Grossi, declared before passing the Ukrainian Army checkpoint towards the area occupied by Russia that “despite the military activity around the plant, the special mission will not stop. We’ve come too far to back down now.”
The experts come from countries such as China, France, Lithuania and Poland. The former chief inspector of the IAEA, the Finn, Olli Heinonen, told the BBC on Wednesday that the commission will try to assess whether the equipment is working properlyif there is any problem, check how the plant employees feel and if their physical and psychological state is satisfactory.
Since Zaporizhia is in Russian hands, it is assumed that Ukrainian staff will not express their point of view freely for fear of reprisals them or their families. So, in Heinonen’s opinion, they will “have to read between the lines and try to figure out what the real situation is. The last thing you want to do is provoke confrontation.”
Grossi, for his part, maintained that, after an initial analysis of the situation, “the possibility of establishing a permanent IAEA presence” at the Zaporizhia plant that allows, in his words, “to offer reliable, impartial and neutral regular updates” on its operation.
The IAEA director and most of his team were at the facility for several hours, until 6:00 p.m. local time. Later left the scene in their vehicles, except for five team members who will remain there until tomorrow to install measuring devices.
“What I Needed to See”
Grossi told the journalists present, mainly Russians, that “in these few hours we were able to collect a lot of information. I saw the main things I needed to see and the explanations were very clear.” According to his words, carried out “an initial evaluation of the work of the staff and management. Despite very, very difficult circumstances, they continue to work professionally.” He also asked that they “let the world know that the IAEA remains in Zaporizhia.”
According to the Ukrainian Minister of Energy, German Galushenko, kyiv gave the IAEA a list of indicators that must be checked. “We discussed it together and gave the mission a list of technical and security controls that are important for the international experts verify them during their visit to the plant”Galushenko assured on Wednesday.
It so happens that, hours before the mission arrived, the Ukrainian operator Energoatom reported the automatic shutdown of one of the six reactors due to Russian bombing. “Today at 04:57, due to another mortar attack by the Russian occupation forces on the Zaporizhia NPP compound, emergency protection activated and operating power unit 5 turned off“, is pointed out in the Energoatom statement.
The head of the Zaporizhia Regional Military Administration, Oleksandr Staruj, stated on his Telegram account that Russian troops have been in recent hours attacking the route used by the delegation and the city of Energodar itself to thwart their work and force them to turn around. “We demand that Russia stop the provocations and grant the IAEA unhindered access to Ukraine’s nuclear facilities,” Staruj demanded. Meanwhile, from Moscow, the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, María Zajárova, assured that there is no intention to prevent access to the plant and denounced provocations by Ukrainian “saboteurs”, in number close to 60, who were liquidated.