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IAEA chief says fighting intensified near Zaporizhzhia NPP

Mar 29, 2023

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said that hostilities have intensified near the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant seized by Russians, but at the same time, he believes that an agreement on the establishment of a security zone around the plant is close.

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According to Ukrinform, Grossi said this in an interview with AP.

According to him, active hostilities have intensified in the area of the ZNPP. "My team on the ground reports daily on attacks and explosions of heavy weapons. This is happening almost constantly," the IAEA Director General explained.

He noted that he sees an "increased level of danger" due to the fighting: "I think the most important thing is to avoid an accident, and the likelihood of it happening is increasing."

During the 13 months of the war, the plant switched to emergency diesel generators six times to power the main cooling systems. It is absolutely impossible to predict when the backup power sources will be needed again, Grossi said.

"This can happen through shelling, through a drone, through an attack, through an offensive or defensive operation. So this is not something that can be planned," he said.

The IAEA Director General emphasized that he maintains a dialogue with both Ukrainian and Russian officials as he seeks to reach an agreement "to ensure that there is no major radiological disaster in Europe."

Commenting on the possibility of a security agreement, he said: "I think it's close... Obviously, you need a political commitment, a political decision. In this case... they will agree to protect the plant. They are not negotiating with each other. They are negotiating with the IAEA. They agree on nuclear safety and security. This is a very important element that I think should be taken into account."

Grossi noted that he considers it his duty to intensify negotiations aimed at protecting nuclear power plants. According to him, he has discussed the situation at the highest level with both sides and is still discussing various scenarios that could lead to the creation of a protective zone around the plant.

"These proposals are aimed at preventing a nuclear accident," Grossi clarified, stressing that they are not aimed at creating a military advantage, legitimizing the situation or ensuring a broad ceasefire.

The IAEA Director General added that this approach would make an agreement possible, "not utopian, which we will have to wait months and months for."

Author - Serhii Kolomiets, 29/03/2023

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