UN nuclear watchdog to establish 'continuous presence' in Ukraine
The IAEA is to be stationed around the ZNPP plant to "secure the area."
The head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency will travel to Ukraine next week to establish a "continuous presence" at all of the country's nuclear power plants, according to a Friday news release.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is ramping up its efforts in the region to "help prevent a nuclear accident" from occurring amid Ukrainian shelling around the plant.
Rafael Grossi, the agency's director general, will visit the South Ukraine and Rivne Nuclear Power Plants, as well as Chernobyl, with two IAEA experts stationed at each location.
Per the press release, a two-member team will also be stationed at the Khmelnitsky power plant.
Last year, the IAEA established a presence at Zaporozhye, Europe's largest nuclear power plant, amid concerns that nearby shelling could lead to a disaster.
"As this tragic war enters its second year, we must continue to do everything we can to avert the danger of a serious nuclear accident that would cause even more suffering and destruction for the people of Ukraine and beyond," Grossi said in the Friday press release.
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In September, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russian forces of using the Zaporozhye plant as a "nuclear weapon."
In a report that month, the IAEA urged Russian and Ukrainian leaders to establish a "security protection zone" around Zaporozhye, stating that "interim measures to prevent a nuclear accident are urgently needed."
In December, a senior official in the Zaporozhye regional government, Vladimir Rogov, said that the main requirement for establishing a security zone around the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant (ZNPP) should be the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops to a distance from which they will be unable to deliver strikes at the station.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly stated that a safety zone around the ZNPP is required.
"Western countries and [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky's regime continue to speculate on the creation of a security zone around the ZNPP, even though it is obvious to everyone that the danger to the nuclear plant comes exclusively from Zelensky's militants who repeatedly fired at the facility. Therefore, only one option is possible - to create a security zone; in which Kiev retreats its troops and heavy weapons to a distance from which they will not be able to strike at the nuclear power plant," Rogov said.