The UN nuclear chief warned that Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Ukraine was “completely out of control” and issued an urgent request to Russia and Ukraine to quickly allow experts to visit the sprawling complex to stabilize the situation and launch a nuclear to avoid accident.
Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday that the situation at the Zaporizhia plant in the southeastern city of Enerhodar, which Russian troops captured in early March, shortly after their February 24 invasion of Ukraine.
“Every principle of nuclear safety has been violated,” he said in the attachment. “What is at stake is extremely serious and extremely serious and dangerous.”
Grossi cited many violations of the plant’s security, adding that it is “located in a place where there is an active war,” near Russian-controlled territory.
The plant’s physical integrity was not respected, he said, citing shelling early in the war when it was taken over and continued information from Ukraine and Russia blaming each other for attacks on Zaporizhia.
There is “a paradoxical situation” where the power plant is controlled by Russia but its Ukrainian personnel continue to run its nuclear operations, leading to inevitable moments of friction and alleged violence, he said. While the IAEA has some contacts with staff, they are “flawed” and “patchy,” he said.
Grossi said the supply chain for equipment and spare parts has been disrupted, “so we’re not sure the plant is getting everything it needs.” The IAEA also has very important inspections to make sure nuclear material is secured, “and there is a lot of nuclear material to inspect there,” he said.
“If you put this together, you have a catalog of things that should never happen at a nuclear facility,” Grossi said. “And that’s why I’ve been adamant from day one that we need to be able to go there and do that safety assessment, do the repairs and help, like we did at Chernobyl.”
The Russian conquest of Zaporizhia renewed fears that the largest of Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors could be damaged and sparked another emergency, like the Chernobyl accident in 1986, the world’s worst nuclear disaster, stretching some 110 kilometers (65 miles) north of the capital Kyiv.
Russian troops occupied the heavily contaminated site shortly after the invasion, but returned control to the Ukrainians in late March. Grossi visited Chernobyl on April 27 and tweeted that the safety level was “like a flashing red light.” But he said on Tuesday that the IAEA set up “a relief mission” in Chernobyl at the time “that has been very, very successful so far.”
The IAEA must go to Zaporizhia, as it did to Chernobyl, to establish the facts of what is actually happening there, to carry out repairs and inspections, and “to prevent a nuclear accident,” Grossi said.
The IAEA chief said he and his team needed protection to get to the facility and urgent cooperation from Russia and Ukraine.
Each side wants this international mission to come from different locations, which is understandable given territorial integrity and political considerations, he said, but there is something more urgent and that is to get the IAEA team to Zaporizhia.
“The presence of the IAEA will deter any act of violence against this nuclear power plant,” Grossi said. “So I ask, as an international official, as the head of an international organization, I ask both sides to continue this mission.”
Grossi was in New York to deliver a keynote speech Monday at the opening of the long-delayed high-level meeting to review the landmark 50-year-old Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which aims to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and eventually achieve a nuclear-free world reach .
In the interview, the IAEA chief also spoke about efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers, which the Trump administration abandoned in 2018 and that the Biden administration has worked to renew.
Grossi said there were “ongoing efforts to attempt another meeting or round to explore possibilities for an agreement”. He said he heard the meeting “could be held soon”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at Monday’s NPT review conference that Iran “was either unwilling or unable” to accept an agreement to return to the 2015 deal aimed at curbing its nuclear program.
Grossi said “there are important differences between the negotiating parties” and important verification issues related to previous activities that Iran needs to address. “It’s not impossible, it’s complex,” he said.
If the nuclear deal known as the JCPOA is not renewed, some IAEA inspections will continue, he said. But the JCPOA provides for additional transparency and inspections “which I believe are extremely important and very necessary given the breadth and depth of Iran’s nuclear program,” he said.
Grossi stressed that working with the IAEA, getting their questions answered and allowing their inspectors to go wherever they need to be is essential for Iran to build trust. “Promises and good words are not enough,” he said.
On another issue, Grossi said that last September’s agreement under which the United States and Britain would supply Australia with nuclear reactors to power its submarines required an agreement with the IAEA to ensure that the amount of nuclear material on board the ship would not Leaving port is present it returns.
He said Australia has not yet decided what type of ship it will get, so while there have been preliminary talks, no substantive talks could begin.
Because it is a military vessel, Grossi said, “there are many confidentiality and information protection measures that need to be embedded in such an agreement, so it is technologically very complex.”
https://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/un-nuclear-chief-ukraine-nuclear-plant-control-rcna41429 Ukrainian nuclear power plant ‘out of control’