A UN official said Tuesday that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has renewed its request to visit the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) in Ukraine, which is under Russian control and has been the target of recent shelling.
UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo announced that IAEA chief Rafael Grossi has requested to send IAEA inspectors to the plant. The inspection is expected to happen within a few days if negotiations with Russia and Ukraine succeed.
“Preparations for the mission are proceeding and the IAEA is in active consultations with all parties regarding its efforts to send such a mission as soon as possible,” DiCarlo said at a UN Security Council Meeting.
“We welcome Ukraine and Russia’s recent statements indicating support for the IAEA’s aim to send a mission to the plant, which would be the IAEA’s first to that site since the start of the war,” DiCarlo added.
Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, said Tuesday that he expects the IAEA mission to happen in the “very near future.” Russia has previously said it agreed to an IAEA inspection of the ZNPP back in June and accused the UN of blocking the mission, a claim the UN has denied.
Nebenzya said that the situation at the ZNPP has deteriorated due to frequent Ukrainian shelling. “The armed forces of Ukraine continue basically every day to shell the territory of the nuclear power plant and the town of Enerhodar and this creates a real risk of a radiation accident,” he said.
Ukraine has accused Russia of being behind the shelling of the ZNPP, but Moscow has little to gain from attacking a nuclear power plant that its forces control. The UN has asked for Russia to demilitarize the plant, but Moscow has rejected the call, saying it would leave the ZNPP more vulnerable to Ukrainian attacks.
Ukraine also said it welcomed the IAEA’s plans to inspect the plant. “Further arrangements are to be made based on the security conditions and require communication of detailed route plans and other logistical aspects as soon as possible,” said Ukraine’s UN Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya.
The IAEA mission is expected to travel to the ZNPP through Ukrainian-controlled territory. DiCarlo said that the UN has the security capability in Ukraine “to support any IAEA mission to the plant from Kyiv, provided Ukraine and Russia agree.”