Amid Shelling, IAEA Inspectors Arrive at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

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Inspectors for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) finally arrived at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant after being delayed several hours due to shelling around Enerhodar, where the plant is located.

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Russia apparently didn’t want the IAEA mission to proceed. Reports say that the Russians shelled the exact route to the plant that had been agreed upon by both belligerents and the IAEA in advance. The shelling forced Energoatom, the Ukrainian company operating the plant, to shut down one of the two remaining reactors.

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The goal of the mission was to assess the “security and the safety situation” at the plant and to leave behind a permanent IAEA presence. The agency’s chief, Rafael Grossi, said a permanent presence “is indispensable to stabilize the situation, and to get regular, reliable, impartial, neutral updates of what the situation is there,”

“We are not going anywhere. The IAEA is now there at the plant and it’s not moving. It’s going to stay there. We’re going to have a continued presence there at the plant,” he said, speaking to reporters following the visit.

Grossi added that he would continue to worry until the situation at the plant had stabilized.

“I worry, and I will continue to be worried about the plant until we have a situation which is more stable, which is more predictable. It is obvious that the plant and the physical integrity of the plant has been violated several times by chance [and] by deliberation,” he said.

“Wherever you stand, whatever you think about this war. This is something that cannot happen and this is why we are trying to put in place certain mechanisms and the presence,” he said.

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Russia would welcome a permanent IAEA presence at the plant, its diplomat told the agency and other international organizations in Vienna on Wednesday. If Moscow means this, it would be good news, but it would be better if the shelling by both sides stopped.

Russia does not want another devastating nuclear accident to deal with. One Chernobyl per millennium is all one nation can handle. But Russia continues to insist it’s only firing on Ukrainian forces because it is being fired upon. Although this seems unlikely, it’s probably true. Ukraine is seeking to dislodge Russia from positions around the nuclear plant and while they aren’t targeting the plant directly, their shells are coming uncomfortably close. And since Ukraine has occupied positions close to the plant, firing on them becomes equally risky.

“Wherever you stand, whatever you think about this war. This is something that cannot happen and this is why we are trying to put in place certain mechanisms and the presence,” Grossi said.

Is anyone listening?

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