The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency, is calling for a safety zone around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine to prevent a nuclear disaster, stating in a report released Tuesday that it remained “gravely concerned” about the situation following its mission to the site last week.
Here are the latest developments:
Putin and Xi to meet: Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to meet on the sidelines of a summit in Uzbekistan next week, in what will be the first face-to-face between the two leaders since the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier this year. It would also be the first overseas trip for Xi since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, China’s number three leader is expected to meet Putin on the sidelines of an economic forum in Vladivostok on Wednesday.
IAEA report says safety principles were violated at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and calls for safety zone: The agency emphasized the urgent need for interim measures “to prevent a nuclear accident arising from physical damage caused by military means.” To achieve this, the IAEA called for the establishment of “a nuclear safety and security protection zone.” The report added, “The IAEA is ready to start immediately the consultations leading to the urgent establishment of such a nuclear safety and security protection zone at the (power plant).” The agency says its team saw first-hand the damage shelling has caused to the facility and “noted with concern that the shelling could have impacted safety related structures, systems and components, and could have caused safety significant impacts, loss of lives and personnel injuries.”
UN nuclear watchdog saw military vehicles and equipment inside Zaporizhzhia plant, according to report: The International Atomic Energy Agency saw Russian military equipment and personnel inside the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during its visit of the facility, Director General Rafael Grossi said in a report published on Tuesday. “The team observed the presence of Russian military personnel, vehicles and equipment at various places at the ZNPP, including several military trucks on the ground floor of the Unit 1 and Unit 2 turbine halls and military vehicles stationed under the overpass connecting the reactor units,” according to the report. The IAEA said the presence of military personnel and equipment creates “very challenging circumstances” for staff trying to maintain normal operations at the plant.
IAEA warns of potential interference after team saw unit of Russian nuclear agency at Zaporizhzhia plant: The IAEA said the team it sent to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine saw a unit of Russia’s nuclear agency at the facility. The IAEA inspectors “observe[d] the presence of an expert group from Rosenergoatom,” which is a unit of Russian nuclear agency Rosatom, according to a report published on Tuesday. “It was explained to the team by the Ukrainian plant staff and managers that the role of this expert group was to provide advice on nuclear safety, security, and operations to the management of the (power plant),” the IAEA said. But “the presence of Rosatom senior technical staff could lead to interference with the normal lines of operational command or authority and create potential frictions when it comes to decision-making,” according to the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog.
Zelensky called for the demilitarization of the nuclear plant: The Ukrainian President said in his nightly address Tuesday, “The [IAEA] mission, which had visited the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, has presented a documentary summary of its work.”
“The report notes the presence of Russian military equipment on the territory of the NPP, emphasizes pressure on our nuclear workers, and makes clear references to the Russian military occupation. That’s good,” he said. Zelensky added, “As for IAEA Director General Grossi’s proposal to create a protection zone at the plant, we need to we need to look into the specific sense of such tool: what exactly can be considered protection? If the sense of this proposal is to demilitarize the territory of the nuclear power plant – and this is logical, because it was the Russian military presence that put the Zaporizhzhia station on the brink of a radiation disaster – then we can support such a demilitarized protection zone.”