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IAEA finds no mines on 2 out of 6 reactors of occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk August 4, 2023 9:32 PM 3 min read
Reactor four at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. (Photo: Energoatom/ Telegram.)
This audio is created with AI assistance

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was granted access to the roofs of reactors three and four of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the agency chief Rafael Grossi said on Aug. 4.

The IAEA experts didn't observe any mines or explosives on site, but they are yet to be allowed onto the roofs of the remaining four power units.

The report comes exactly a month after Ukraine's General Staff warned that Russian forces had placed objects resembling explosives on the roofs of reactors three and four, preparing a sabotage attack.

During the Aug. 1 inspection, the IAEA team also discovered that the mines they observed on July 23 at the plant's perimeter were still in place.

According to Grossi, those mines are located "in a buffer zone between the site's internal and external perimeter barriers," in a restricted area that plant workers cannot access. Russian forces reportedly told the IAEA experts that "it is a military decision and in an area controlled by the military."

"No new mines or explosives were observed during any walk-downs over the past week," Grossi said on Aug. 4.

Energoatom: Russia kidnaps, tortures Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant engineer
Russia illegally holds Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant engineer Serhii Potynh since June and subjects him to torture, Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company Energoatom reported on July 28.

He added that following a switch of reactor unit five to cold shutdown on July 28, maintenance work had begun at the plant, including inspection of the safety systems and cleaning of the heat exchanger.

"However, the IAEA team has repeatedly requested more complete information regarding the full scope of maintenance activities planned to be conducted on Unit 5, given the limited availability of spare parts and significantly reduced maintenance staff available at the plant."

Unit 5's transfer into cold shutdown status – a mode in which it no longer produces electricity – was conducted three days after Russian forces brought unit four to hot shutdown in violation of safety protocols.

The IAEA staff has been based at the Zaporizhzhia plant on rotation since September 2022, after Grossi's first visit to the occupied facility.

Russian forces have occupied the Zaporizhzhia plant, the largest nuclear plant in Europe, since March 2022. They have used it as a military base to launch attacks at Ukrainian-controlled territory across the Dnipro River.

On the edge of disaster: What could really happen if Russia destroys Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant?
In late June, 16 months into the full-scale Russian invasion, President Volodymyr Zelensky alerted his nation of an unprecedented threat. Russia, the president said, had rigged the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant with explosives, and was ready to set off the charges and cause radiation to…
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