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UN Team Heads to Assess Ukrainian Nuclear Power Plant

A team of IAEA experts and inspectors leave the capital Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 31, 2022.
A team of IAEA experts and inspectors leave the capital Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 31, 2022.

A team of inspectors from the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog headed Wednesday to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant to assess safety and security issues at the Russian-controlled site.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi said the team he is leading will spend several days at the plant and said their mission is a “very complex operation.”

“We are going to a war zone. We are going to occupied territory. This requires the explicit guarantees from not only from the Russian Federation but also from the Republic of Ukraine. And we have been able to secure that,” Grossi told reporters in Kyiv.

He also said inspectors would be talking to personnel at the nuclear plant, which despite Russian control is being run by Ukrainian engineers.

“Of course, that is one of the most important things I want to do, and I will do it,” Grossi said.

Both Russia and Ukraine allege the other has continued to shell territory near the facility, with world leaders expressing fears that a nuclear disaster is possible.

The IAEA met Tuesday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who called for the “immediate demilitarization of the plant” and its transfer to “full Ukrainian control.”

According to The New York Times, the plant showed signs of being hit by artillery fire and is blanketed in smoke from nearby wildfires.

The IAEA said the mission will focus on assessing physical damage at the plant, determining the functionality of safety and security systems, evaluating staff conditions and performing “urgent safeguards activities.”

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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