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IAEA chief: 'Direct attack' most serious risk to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

by Abbey Fenbert October 11, 2023 6:48 AM 2 min read
International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi at IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria, on Sept. 11, 2023. (Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images)
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The most significant threat to nuclear safety is “a direct attack" on the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi told The Guardian in an Oct. 10 interview.

President Volodymyr Zelensky promised Grossi that Ukrainian troops would never launch such an attack in their efforts to liberate the facility from Russian occupation.

“President Zelensky has personally assured me that they will not directly bomb or shell it,” Grossi said.

He added that the president told him "all other options are on the table" for retaking the nuclear plant.

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant has been occupied by Russian forces since March 2022. The IAEA has sent teams of inspectors to the facility since September 2022, though Russian administrators at the plant have not allowed monitors full access to requested units.

Grossi has repeatedly warned that intensifying military activity around the plant poses grave risks to nuclear safety.

“I’m often asked, is [the power station] safe now? No. It’s in the middle of a war zone with a counteroffensive,” he told The Guardian.

The agency director also said that staff numbers at the ZNPP are "growing again" as more Russians are brought to the plant.

Grossi said that despite difficulties with access and security, IAEA inspectors are still able to conduct safety evaluations.

However, he said that a land war surrounding a nuclear reactor was an unprecedented situation.

“I’ve had to cross the front line three times, and as a diplomat I was not expecting to do that in my career," Grossi said.

Locals near Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant brace for potential disaster: ‘It would be the end of us’
Editor’s note: For this story, the Kyiv Independent talked to residents who live in Russian-occupied settlements in Zaporizhzhia Oblast. For their safety, we have changed their names. From the rooftop of his home, Anton can easily see the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the largest nuclear plant…

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