The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has sent a team of inspectors to Ukraine to inspect the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP). IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said on Twitter Monday that the inspectors will be at the plant “later this week.”
The ZNPP has been controlled by Russian forces since March. The plant has recently been the site of frequent shelling, raising fears of a potential nuclear disaster.
Ukraine has blamed the shelling on Russia, but Moscow has little reason to attack a nuclear plant that it controls. Russian officials have been calling for an IAEA inspection team to visit the plant, saying that the inspectors will be able to see that Ukrainian forces have been behind the recent attacks.
Both Russia and Ukraine welcomed the IAEA’s announcement. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said that the IAEA inspectors were set to arrive in Kyiv on Monday. From the Ukrainian capital, the inspectors will travel to the ZNPP, which is located near the city of Enerhodar in the southeastern Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
Yevgeny Balitsky, the Russian-installed governor of Zaporizhzhia, said that the safety of the IAEA team will be ensured. He said officials would use the opportunity to “provide evidence that Ukraine is behaving like a nuclear terrorist state.”
The ZNPP is located on the southern shore of the Dnieper River. Russia controls the plant and the territory around it, while Ukraine controls areas across the river. Russian troops are stationed at the ZNPP, and Moscow has rejected UN calls to demilitarize the plant, claiming it would leave the area exposed to more Ukrainian attacks.