UN inspectors advance towards Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant despite ‘increased’ bombardment – POLITICO

UN nuclear security officials heading to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia power plant face heavy shelling but will continue to travel to the facility, the team leader said Thursday.

“There has been increased military activity, including this morning – until very recently, a few minutes ago,” Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Thursday morning. ) of ONU. But he added defiantly: “Having come this far, we are not stopping. We are moving forward now”, despite the fact that “the risks are very, very high”.

Grossi concluded his press release by saying, “Wish us luck, we’re leaving now…It’s very important that the world knows what’s going on here.”

IAEA inspectors are expected to cross the frontline between Ukrainian-held land and Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory and reach the nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, later on Thursday. UN inspectors will press on, despite reports of intense shelling by Ukraine and Russia around Zaporizhzhia, amid fears the risks of a nuclear accident are growing.

One of the nuclear plant’s six power units was shut down due to “new mortar fire by Russian occupying forces”, Ukraine’s state-owned energy company Energoatom said in a statement.

The Russian Defense Ministry has accused Ukraine of trying to regain control of the plant, which Russian forces seized in March but which continues to be operated by Ukrainian personnel. According to the Russian statement, “measures were taken to destroy the enemy, including with the use of army aviation.”

Ukrainian local authorities reported attacks in Enerhodar, a town near the Zaporizhzhia plant, where most of the plant’s staff live.

“The Russians are bombing the pre-agreed route of the IAEA mission from Zaporizhzhia to the ZNPP. The UN team cannot continue the movement for security reasons,” said Dmytro Orlov, the mayor of ‘Enerhodar, on Telegram earlier Thursday morning.

POLITICO was unable to independently verify the battlefield reports.

In his statement to the press on Thursday, Grossi said his team will “immediately” begin “an assessment of the safety and security situation at the plant, as it is right now. We will liaise , consult facility staff.”

The IAEA wants to establish a continuous presence at the plant, which Grossi says is crucial to “stabilizing the situation and getting regular, reliable, unbiased and neutral updates on the situation there.”


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