UN nuclear watchdog should be mistrusted ‘by default’ – Zelensky aide
International organizations including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are “cowardly” and cannot be trusted, a senior aide to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has said.
“I don’t like international institutions and mediation missions in general. They look extremely ineffective, extremely cowardly and extremely unprofessional,” Mikhail Podolyak said in an interview on Thursday evening.
This applies “not only to the IAEA”, but also to the UN, Amnesty International, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Ukrainian official claimed, adding: “By default, you should not trust them.”
Podolyak’s remarks came as he criticized the IAEA mission to the Russia-controlled Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, which arrived earlier in the day. He expressed his low expectations from the mission, based on the positive remarks that Director General Rafael Grossi made after touring the facility in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian official said he was willing to give the IAEA inspectors the benefit of the doubt and wait for them make an official report that would “show the depth of their inner destruction”.
He explained his concerns, citing several aspects of Grossi’s visit. They include its relatively short duration, which Podolyak assessed was too short for a proper fact-finding mission. He also criticized the willingness of the IAEA chief to talk to a representative of the Russian atomic energy body Rosatom, who, Podolyak said, “delivered a strange long speech” to the UN official.
The IAEA experts arrived at the station from Kiev despite continued military action in its vicinity. Kiev and Moscow have accused each other of being behind the shelling and of trying to derail the inspection. Some members of the mission stayed behind to monitor the situation, while Grossi and others left.
Podolyak said the IAEA should blame Russia for attacks on the plant, and if their report fails to do so, only stating that inspectors witnessed evidence of strikes, his opinion about the organization will be vindicated.
President Vladimir Zelensky too has expressed skepticism about the IAEA visit to the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. In a video statement on Thursday evening, he accused Grossi of failing to secure access to the station to “independent journalists”, who wanted to visit with the inspectors.
Russia has accused Kiev of trying to send intelligence agents under the guise of the press. The visit was covered by Russia-vetted journalists, whom Zelensky branded “a crowd of propagandists.”