IAEA begins negotiations on creation of a safe zone around occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant

22 September, 02:01 PM
Raphael Grossi (Photo:REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger)

Raphael Grossi (Photo:REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger)

IAEA Director General Raphael Grossi met with Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, in New York on Sept. 21, where the two discussed the security situation surrounding the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP).

On Twitter, Kuleba revealed the discussions revolved around ways to restore security at the ZNPP and stressed that Russia must withdraw its troops and specialists from the plant, and return it to Ukrainian control.

Prior to his meeting with Kuleba, Grossi also met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

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Grossi tweeted that the foreign ministers of several countries were discussing the "immediate establishment of a nuclear safety zone" around the ZNPP on Sept. 21. The meeting was also attended by French President Emmanuel Macron, EU diplomat Josep Borrell, and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.

During a press briefing following the meeting, the IAEA Director General said he hoped to travel to Ukraine and Russia soon to speed up security talks, and stressed that a decision must be made as soon as possible. According to Grossi, issues such as the radius of the nuclear safety zone and the role of IAEA staff are also being discussed.

PM Shmyhal added that the IAEA was planning to increase its permanent mission staff at the occupied plant.

A delegation of 14 IAEA experts arrived at Russia-occupied ZNPP on Sept. 1. After spending several hours at the facility, part of the delegation departed. Two agency experts remain at the power plant, monitoring the situation. Grossi later said the agency will have a permanent presence at ZNPP.

IAEA presented its report on the situation at the ZNPP on Sept. 6, and indicated that there is an acute need for temporary measures to ensure the nuclear safety of the facility, including establishing a secure zone around the power plant.

The ZNPP is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, and has been occupied by Russian forces since March 4. Several ZNPP facilities have been damaged by Russian shelling, and the station's employees are captives of the occupying troops.

The Kremlin uses the facility as cover for its forces, as Ukraine can’t return fire for the risk of causing a nuclear calamity.

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