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6 Mar, 2024 16:32

‘Nuclear accident’ still possible at Europe’s largest plant – IAEA boss to RT

IAEA head Rafael Grossi issued the warning in Sochi, where he was holding talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin
‘Nuclear accident’ still possible at Europe’s largest plant – IAEA boss to RT

A “nuclear accident” on the frontline of the Ukraine conflict remains a possibility, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, has warned.

Speaking after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday, Grossi noted that while the situation around the Zaporozhye nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, has “evolved” in recent months, a danger exists as long as the hostilities between Moscow and Kiev continue. 

Grossi said the agency has “well-established” itself at the plant, which is now dormant, unlike during the early stages of the conflict when the facility suffered “direct hits.” Nevertheless, the IAEA chief refrained from describing the situation as improved, stating that the conditions could change at any moment due to active fighting in its relative vicinity.

Asked whether he had warned Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky about the “potential consequences” of launching attack on the plant, Grossi replied that he remains in touch with all parties to the conflict. 

“I think everybody is aware of what is at stake here. My function here is to continuously draw the attention of everyone about what is at risk. In a war situation, [the] unexpected may happen,” he said. “I can assure you, that I’m very clear when I speak to everybody about this. So, I’m confident that they are hearing us.”

The plant fell under Moscow’s control in 2022, early in the conflict with Ukraine. It was formally transferred to Rosatom management after Zaporozhye Region was incorporated into Russia following a referendum. 

Russia has repeatedly accused Kiev of launching artillery, missile, and drone attacks against the facility, as well as repeatedly sending in special forces teams to try and seize it. The plant has sustained minor damage to its support infrastructure and was placed in a dormant state in order to minimize the chances of a potentially catastrophic scenario. 

However, Kiev has insisted that Moscow itself shelled the plant, and has alleged that the facility has been heavily mined by the Russian military. IAEA experts inspected the station last year and found no sign of any explosive devices planted at the site.