Lviv, Ukraine, Oct 6 (EFE).- The International Atomic Energy Agency continues to regard the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) as a Ukrainian facility even though it has been occupied by Russia since shortly after the war began, that entity’s director general said Thursday.
In a press conference in Kyiv following a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Rafael Mariano Grossi stressed the complexity of the situation amid the ongoing military conflict.
“For us, it’s obvious that since this is a Ukrainian facility, the ownership is of Energoatom (the Ukrainian state enterprise that operates all four of the country’s nuclear power plants). Any change would be a complex issue,” Gross said ahead of an upcoming visit to Russia’s capital.
Also Thursday, the IAEA chief slammed “unacceptable pressure” facing Ukrainian personnel at the Zaporizhzhia facility in southeastern Ukraine, saying those difficulties have intensified this week and that Moscow is requiring them to sign new work contracts with Russia’s Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation.
He said that pressure could have potentially grave consequences for nuclear security.
Russia’s army occupied the six-reactor ZNPP, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, in early March and has controlled the facility ever since.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree placing the ZNPP under Russian state control.
Referring to that move, Grossi said it was clearly illegal.
“We are an international organization guided by international law, and as you know very well annexations are not accepted under international law,” he said.
In recent weeks, Grossi has proposed the creation of a Nuclear Safety and Security Protection Zone around the Zaporizhzhia plant to avoid a nuclear accident and he discussed that proposal on Thursday with Zelenskyy.
Two IAEA experts have been based at the ZNPP since September to observe what is happening there, although Grossi said they will be replaced in the coming weeks by a new team composed of four IAEA inspectors.
Further ratcheting up the tension surrounding that nuclear plant, Russia on Thursday carried out pre-dawn missile attacks on the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia that reportedly left at three dead and injured 12 others.
Regional Gov. Oleksandr Starukh said on Telegram that the Russian army fired seven rockets at residential buildings in Zaporizhzhia, destroying two high-rise apartment blocks.
The broader Zaporizhzhia region is mostly Russian-controlled and is one of four – along with Donetsk, Luhansk and Kherson – that Putin formally annexed on Wednesday following referendums that the Western powers have dismissed as “sham” votes.
Those annexations are illegal under international law and have been roundly condemned by the international community.
Russia does not fully control any of those four regions. EFE