Energoatom, the operator of Ukraine’s nuclear power plant, on Monday denounced a request by the world’s nuclear watchdog to visit the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
The Ukrainian operator accused International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Mariano Grossi of ‘lying’ and warned the visit was a way to legitimize Russia’s occupation of Russia’s biggest nuclear power plant. Europe – which is operated by Ukrainian personnel but has been under the control of Russian troops since March.
“The Ukrainian side did not invite Grossi to visit the ZNPP [Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant] and had previously denied him such a visit, stressing that a visit to the power plant would only be possible when our country regains control of it,” Energoatom said in a Telegram post.
Rosatom chief executive Alexey Likhachev said in March that the Russian nuclear operator had no intention of taking operational control of Zaporijzhia.
Magnified said Monday that he was “actively working” on sending an expert mission to the plant “sooner or later but better sooner”. Grossi has been working for months to organize such a trip, but has so far failed to convince Ukraine and Russia to agree on the details.
Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said last month that the IAEA was in contact with Russian and Ukrainian authorities about a possible visit, Russian news agency Interfax reported.
He added on Monday that “the organization of such a trip requires settling a whole set of logistical and technical questions, such as from which direction to enter it, from which territory, through which checkpoints, on which transport, etc. these details have not yet been agreed.”
The IAEA has reported that Russian nuclear experts are at Zaporizhzhia, but their function “is not entirely clear”, Grossi said last month. He added that the Russian presence in a Ukrainian power plant “goes against all the security principles that we have” and creates the “potential for disagreement, friction, contradictory instructions”.
Grossi also said on Monday that Ukraine had told his agency that it had “lost control” of nuclear materials at Zaporizhzhia and the communication of nuclear safeguards data with the plant is down. Nuclear safeguards mechanisms are essential to ensure that nuclear facilities are not misused and that nuclear materials are not diverted from peaceful uses.
“The urgent need for us to be there is clear to all,” he said. “Logistics and other such considerations must not prevent it. We must find a solution to the obstacles that prevent progress at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.”
Energoatom said any problems with data transmission to the IAEA were “caused by the actions of the Russian occupiers”, and accused the Russians of staging the crisis to get Grossi to visit the power plant.
Grossi visited the disused Chernobyl nuclear power plant north of Kyiv. It was under Russian control for several weeks, during which it was feared that a power cut at the site could create a danger of the release of radioactive substances.
The IAEA declined to comment on Energoatom’s claims.
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