The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, said on Thursday that the “physical integrity” of Europe’s largest nuclear facility had been compromised by its repeated bombings.
After inspecting the nuclear facility and returning to territory under Kiev’s control, Grossi told reporters: “It is clear that the plant and its physical integrity have been violated several times.”
“We don’t have the elements to assess this,” he added, but “it cannot continue.”
Grossi noted that part of the agency’s team of experts will remain at the facility for several days, “until Sunday or Monday”, without specifying their number.
He explained that these inspectors will stay to “continue to assess the situation” at the station, whose area has been bombed several times, raising fears of a nuclear disaster.
The agency’s director general made the announcement after returning to Novoleksandrivka, the Zaporozhye region under the control of Ukrainian forces.
The visit to Zaporozhye by a delegation of 14 inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency was highly anticipated by the station, which has been occupied by Russian forces since March, as Moscow and Kyiv accuse each other of being behind the attack.
“We have a lot of work to do here to look at the technical aspects,” Grossi said.
“We got to see a lot of things”
According to the Russian news agency Interfax, the agency’s delegation arrived at the station on Thursday afternoon in nine cars, of which only four left at night when the visit ended, meaning that five cars remained there.
Grossi said on Wednesday that the International Atomic Energy Agency would seek to “maintain a permanent presence” at the plant, an option he had not previously mentioned publicly.
After an inspection mission that lasted “about four or five hours” at the station, the Argentine said he was able to see “many things”.
“We were able to visit the entire site. I was in the section (of the reactor) and I saw the emergency system and other parts, the control rooms,” he said, praising the dedication of the Ukrainian team who continued working on the plant afterwards. It fell into the hands of Russian forces in March.
“Of course they are in a very difficult position, but they are incredibly professional,” he said.
Zelensky: The solution is to demilitarize Zaporozhye territory
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his daily evening message that the IAEA should have gone further and insisted on “disarmament” of the nuclear zone.
He added that “the main thing that has to happen is the demilitarization of the area of the plant (…) and it is a pity that we have not yet heard the relevant messages from the International Atomic Energy Agency (…), although we have spoken. ” About this during our meeting with Grossi (Tuesday) in Kyiv.
“That was the key! The security point of our agreements: disarmament and full control of our nuclear workers,” he said.
For his part, Director General of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Robert Mardini, told reporters in Kiev: “It is time to stop playing with fire and take concrete steps to protect this site and other similar sites from all military operations. ”. . “
Mardini warned that “the slightest miscalculation could lead to a disaster we will mourn for decades.”
And on Thursday, one of Zaporozhye’s nuclear reactors was shut down due to Russian bombing, according to the operator of the Energoatom nuclear power plant, who confirmed that one of the plant’s six reactors was still in operation.
On Thursday, Ukrainian authorities accused Russia of an artillery attack on the town of Energodar, where the Zaporizhia station is located.
“The Russians are starting an artillery barrage on the path that the International Atomic Energy Agency mission must take towards the Zaporizhia station,” the city’s mayor, Dmytro Orlov, wrote on the exile’s Telegram.
Russia: “Ukrainian saboteurs tried to take over Zaporozhye station”
For its part, the Russian military confirmed on Thursday that Ukrainian forces had sent two groups of “spoilers”.
“At approximately six o’clock (0300 GMT), two groups of Ukrainian army saboteurs, numbering sixty men, arrived from seven ships… three kilometers northeast of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant,” the Defense Ministry said. Russian. in one sentence. said the statement. They were trying to take over the station.”
The ministry added that it had taken “measures to eliminate the enemy, especially with the help of military aviation”.
The station is located on the Dnipro River, whose left bank is controlled by Russian forces in this area. These statements could not be independently verified.
Russia’s Defense Ministry also accused the Ukrainian military of bombing the “meeting point” of an International Atomic Energy Agency mission near the nuclear plant.
The official representative of the Russian occupation administration, Vladimir Rogov, confirmed by telegram that three civilians were killed and one was wounded as a result of the Ukrainian artillery attack on residential areas of Energodar. He posted dated photos showing damaged buildings.
In an evening report, Ukraine’s General Staff reported “fish bombings” of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city in the northeast of the country, and Zaporizhia in the south, as well as Kramatorsk, Bakhmut and Sloviansk in the east.
On the other hand, the report did not mention information about the counter-offensive carried out by the Ukrainian army on Monday in several southern regions, especially in the Kherson area, one of the few large cities occupied by Russia.
On Wednesday, the Russian military confirmed that it had repelled attacks by Ukrainian forces over the past two days, causing heavy losses.
In a report released on Thursday, the non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch said Russian forces had forcibly moved Ukrainian civilians, including those who fled the war, to areas under their control.
Macron and the dialogue with Russia
In a speech at the Élysée Palace in Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron called for an ongoing dialogue with Russia and stressed that “we must assume that we can always continue talking to everyone”, especially “anyone”. We don’t agree.”
The French president is one of the few European leaders to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, a move that has drawn criticism.
But Macron warned at the same time that “dividing Europe” is “one of Russia’s war goals”.
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