IAEA chief Grossi says mission to Ukrainian nuclear plant is technical

By Thomson Reuters Aug 31, 2022 | 8:28 AM

ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine (Reuters) – The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, said on Wednesday the agency’s planned visit to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was a “technical mission” that aimed to prevent a nuclear accident.

The mission arrived earlier on Wednesday in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia, 55 km (34 miles) away from the plant.

Asked about plans for a demilitarised zone at the plant, Grossi said that “this is a matter of political will”.

“But my mission – I think it’s very important to establish (this) with all clarity – my mission is a technical mission,” he told reporters.

“It’s a mission that seeks to prevent a nuclear accident. And to preserve this important (nuclear power plant),” he said, adding that the first mission visit to the station could last few days.

Earlier on Wednesday Ukraine’s energy minister German Galushchenko told Reuters that the IAEA mission to the Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant was a step towards “deoccupying and demilitarising” the site.

The plant of six power units, the largest in Europe, was captured by Moscow in March but is still operated by Ukrainian staff under the supervision of Russian troops and nuclear engineers.

The plant’s territory, which is less than 10 km away from Ukrainian positions across the Dnipro river, has come under repeated shelling over the past month, with Kyiv and Moscow accusing each other of being responsible.

(Reporting by Tom Balmforth; Writing by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Gareth Jones and Jan Harvey)