Zaporizhzhia: Interior of Ukrainian power plant raises specter of nuclear disaster in Europe

Western officials say Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is in a defensive position after setbacks including an attack in Crimea

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A serviceman with a Russian flag on his uniform stands guard near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on August 4. (Alexander Ermoshenko/Reuters)

A delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency could visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in early September, according to Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian representative in Vienna where the IAEA is based.

Ulyanov said in an online briefing on Friday: “It is too early to say anything about the details, these are all extremely sensitive issues, we are discussing and will continue to discuss the modalities of the mission, the itinerary, the number of people who participate in it, how long they will stay at the station, for what tasks they are sent there.

“When the mission can take place – the forecasts do not always come true, but, in my opinion, we can quite realistically speak of the first days of September, unless some extraneous factors that are not related to the objectives occur. present again”, says Ulyanov.

Ulyanov said the organization of the mission is currently being discussed with the IAEA secretariat.

“Almost every day I communicate with the general director of the agency, Rafael Grossi… On Monday he will report here in Vienna, and the work in this direction will be intensified,” Ulyanov said.

The Russian and Ukrainian sides disagree on the modalities of such a visit. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Thursday that an IAEA mission should only cross territories not occupied by Russia.

As for the status of the plant, Ulyanov said: “So far there are no serious consequences, but, as the IAEA Director General rightly said at a meeting special meeting of the UN Security Council a week ago, at any time it could end badly,” Ulyanov said.

He said the situation at the plant was “extremely alarming. What the Ukrainian military is doing by bombing this nuclear facility is completely unacceptable,” he said.

Ukraine denied bombing the area and accused Russia of doing so as a provocation. Some plant facilities were damaged.

Ulyanov said he did not believe the IAEA would support Ukraine’s insistence that a demilitarized zone be created around the plant.

“I don’t think the IAEA will support it, and for a simple reason: the creation of demilitarized zones has nothing to do with the IAEA’s mandate,” he said.

Russian officials rejected the idea of ​​demilitarizing the plant, saying it needed to be protected.

Amid a steady stream of accusations from both sides, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Friday that Ukrainian recklessness was to blame for posing “a threat to the greatest nuclear installation of Europe with potential risks for a huge territory, not only adjacent to this plant”. , but well beyond the Ukrainian borders.”

“Our air defense systems in the region have been reinforced, we are taking all measures to ensure the security of the station,” Ryabkov said, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

Ryabkov said the presence of the Russian military guarding the nuclear power plant was a guarantee that such a Chernobyl scenario would not come to pass.

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