UN Team Manages to Get to Zaporizhzhia Plant

International Atomic Energy Agency experts will inspect security conditions at nuclear plant
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 1, 2022 7:44 AM CDT
After 'Perilous' Trip, UN Team Arrives at Zaporizhzhia Plant
In this photo released by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Director General of nuclear watchdog, Rafael Mariano Grossi, second from left, speaks to unidentified authorities as the UN agency mission heads to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022.   (International Atomic Energy Agency via AP)

The New York Times calls it "one of the most complex and perilous missions of its kind ever attempted," and it has apparently been successful, at least in this very initial step. A team from the UN nuclear agency has arrived at the site of Europe's largest nuclear plant to inspect security conditions, Ukraine’s nuclear energy operator confirmed Thursday. Ukraine’s Enerhoatom said the team of 14 experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency had arrived at the Zaporizhzhia plant, a journey that involved traversing a buffer zone between the Ukrainian and Russian forces.

IAEA director Rafael Grossi had earlier noted that the risks are "very, very high” in the so-called grey zone between Ukrainian and Russian positions, but "we have the minimum conditions to move." It's unclear how long the team will remain at the plant. Grossi on Wednesday indicated his desire was to be there for "several days." He added that he is considering "the possibility of establishing a continued presence of the IAEA at the plant, which we believe is indispensable to stabilize the situation and to get regular, reliable, impartial, neutral updates of what the situation is there," reports the AP.

Enerhoatom said on Thursday that Russian mortar shelling led to the shutdown of one of its two operating reactors and also damaged a backup power supply line used for in-house needs. France24 reports Russia on Thursday accused Ukraine of trying to seize the plant, saying Ukrainian troops had crossed the Dnieper River in speedboats, landing about 2 miles from the plant. The Russian Defense Ministry said it "took steps to destroy the enemy." The Zaporizhzhia plant has been occupied by Russian forces but run by Ukrainian engineers since the early days of the 6-month-old war. Ukraine alleges Russia is using the plant as a shield, storing weapons there and launching attacks from around it, while Moscow accuses Ukraine of recklessly firing on the area.

(Read more Zaporizhzhia plant stories.)

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