UN Nuclear Watchdog To Establish “Continued Presence” At Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant

Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said on Thursday that the nuclear watchdog would establish a “continued presence” at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant following the conclusion of an initial fact finding visit to the plant in southern Ukraine. Grossi had personally led the inspection team during its visit.

In comments made to reporters following the visit, Grossi said “We are not going anywhere. The IAEA is now there at the plant and it’s not moving. It’s going to stay there. We’re going to have a continued presence there at the plant”. 

Grossi added that he would continue to be worried about the power plant until there was “a situation which is more stable, which is more predictable”, as it was “obvious that the plant and the physical integrity of the plant has been violated several times by chance (and) by deliberation”.

Ukrainian nuclear power plant operator Energoatom says that the majority of the inspection team that visited the plant have now departed, with five team members staying behind to unload equipment brought by the IAEA to the plant. In a statement, Energoatom added that it expected the remaining inspectors to stay at the power plant until September 3, with representatives of Russian occupation authorities that control the area around the power plant also stating the same.

Russian newspaper Izvestia filmed members of the IAEA team inspecting the power plant, releasing a video of an inspector walking past two Russian military trucks inside one of the power plant buildings. Both trucks bear prominent “Z” insignia on them, one of the more infamous symbols of Russia’s now six-month-old full scale invasion of Ukraine.

Izvestia video of IAEA inspectors at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant

The IAEA team announced on August 29, that it had departed from Ukrainian territory for the inspection of the nuclear power plant, after Ukraine and Russia agreed to allow the visit. Grossi had requested the visit following accusations by both nations that the other had shelled the power plant compound, in addition to claims that Russia had stockpiled military vehicles and other equipment in the nuclear power plant’s compound.