Vienna, Dec 23 (EFE).- The International Atomic Energy Agency has set its sights on two main targets for 2023 — creating a safety zone around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine and clarifying the nature of Iran’s nuclear program.
In an interview with Efe, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said the situation at the nuclear plant was the most urgent of the tasks.
“The war in Ukraine has created an unprecedented challenge for the IAEA,” the Argentine diplomat said, adding that a number of inspectors from the agency were present at nuclear installations in the war-hit nation, from Chernobyl to Zaporizhzhia.
“This provides a technical assistance and protection measure that Ukraine needs. But there is still the enormous challenge of completing the safety zone. Those challenges are obvious as it is a situation of two nations at war and it is a combat zone. But we are confident we can achieve this goal in the shortest time possible.”
He said both Ukraine and Russia had agreed on the need for a safety zone at the Zaporizhzhia plant, the largest in Europe.
“The safety zone is the way to do it and the IAEA is the vehicle to do it. We are working on the details and we have made some advances, such as the principle of not shooting at the plant and not using it as a military base,” Grossi said.
The second challenge for the United Nations agency lies with Iran’s controversial nuclear program.
“Our task is to continue to offer paths for diplomatic and technical solutions for a problem that could get worse over time,” he said.
“Because Iran continues to fail to meet its obligations under its safeguards agreement and at the same time is embarking on a high-speed advance of its uranium enrichment program, which is generating tensions and a state of alert in many parts of the world,” the director general said.
He referred to stalled investigations between the IAEA and Tehran over traces of uranium detected at sites not declared for nuclear use.
Iran is modernizing and expanding its nuclear program as well as enriching uranium to 60% purity, near the levels needed to build an atomic bomb.
Negotiations for Iran to return to the rules of the 2015 Nuclear Deal are ongoing. Tehran ended its adherence to some elements of the deal after former United States president Donald Trump pulled out of the pact. EFE