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'Saw what we needed to see': IAEA team at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine

Zaporizhzhia, UkraineEdited By: Srishti Singh SisodiaUpdated: Sep 01, 2022, 08:39 PM IST
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(Left) IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi leaves a hotel as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission departs for a visit to Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine September 1, 2022. Photograph:(Reuters)

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Earlier in the day, Ukraine's state nuclear company Energoatom accused Moscow and stated that the Russian shelling had forced the shutdown of one of the only two operating reactors at the plant.

A team of UN inspectors visited Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia atomic plant complex on Thursday (September 1) to assess the risk of a radiation disaster at the plant.

The support assistance mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) led by Director General Rafael Grossi reached the facility around 3:00 pm (local time). 

Russian agencies quoted Grossi as saying that the team "saw what needed to see" at Zaporizhzhia. 

"I think we were able in these few hours to put together a lot, a lot of information. The key things I needed to see I saw, and your explanations were very clear," Rafael Grossi told Russian media.

The team arrived on the day when there was shelling near the site. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also warned that the consequences of a strike on the facility could be "catastrophic". 

The Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia plant has been at the centre of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war after the recent claims of firing raised fears of nuclear disaster. Both sides have accused each other of firing and shelling at the facility. 

Zaporizhzhia is the largest nuclear power plant across Europe.  

Russian forces took over the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant soon after the nation announced the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, what it refers to as a "special military operation". But notably, the plant is still run by Ukrainian technicians. 

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WATCH | UN team heads to Zaporizhzhia plant, IAEA visit delayed by renewed shelling 

As per news agency Reuters, its reporter saw the IAEA team arrive in a large convoy with a heavy presence of Russian soldiers nearby. Citing a Ukrainian source with knowledge of the situation, the news agency also mentioned that the mission "may turn out to be shorter than was planned." 

Earlier in the day, Ukraine's state nuclear company Energoatom accused Moscow and stated that the Russian shelling had forced the shutdown of one of the only two operating reactors at the site. 

Responding to the accusations, Moscow said it had thwarted a Ukrainian attempt to seize the plant. Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov even said they are doing everything to ensure that the plant could operate safely. Lavrov also said that they are looking after the process so that the IAEA experts be able to complete their tasks. 

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