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5 Jul, 2023 19:44

IAEA issues results of probe into Kiev’s claim of mines at nuclear plant

The UN agency’s experts have found no charges at the Zaporozhye power plant
IAEA issues results of probe into Kiev’s claim of mines at nuclear plant

Specialists from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have found no signs of any mines at the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP). The UN watchdog's announcement on Wednesday came after an inspection carried out by its staff at the key site.

The experts checked some parts of the facility, including “sections of the perimeter of the large cooling pond,” over the past days and weeks, the statement said, adding that they also “conducted regular walkdowns across the site.”

So far, no “visible indications of mines or explosives” have been observed, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in the statement. The agency’s team requested additional access to certain parts of the facility, including the rooftops of reactor units 3 and 4, as well as turbine halls and cooling system facilities, he added.

“Their independent and objective reporting would help clarify the current situation at the site,” he said, pointing to some “unconfirmed allegations” indicating some potential security risks at the site. The director general also confirmed that the team stationed at ZNPP had not reported any recent shelling or explosions near the site.

The facility, which is Europe’s largest, returned to the spotlight in recent weeks after senior officials in Kiev claimed that Russia was planning a nuclear incident at the facility. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky alleged that Moscow wanted to cause a “radiation leak” at the plant. A key aide to Vladimir Zelensky, Mikhail Podoliak, also accused the Russian military of laying mines at the plant’s cooling pond.

Moscow has rejected these claims as “yet another lie.” The UN nuclear watchdog previously denied the claims about mines in the cooling pond as well.

On Wednesday, the Kremlin warned about a “high threat of sabotage” at the plant in Kiev. Such an action could lead to “catastrophic” results, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, adding that the situation around ZNPP remains “tense.”

On Tuesday, Renat Karchaa, a senior official at Russia’s nuclear power plant operator Rosenergoatom, warned that the Ukrainian military might strike the facility with long-range, high-precision weapons or kamikaze drones. He also claimed that Kiev might target the plant with a Soviet-made ballistic missile loaded with radioactive waste.

Moscow and Kiev have repeatedly accused each other of shelling the Zaporozhye plant throughout their conflict. The facility has been under Russian control since March 2022.