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IAEA is sending a team to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine, which is close to a war front

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - The head of the U.N. agency that keeps an eye on nuclear issues said that a team was headed to Ukraine...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - The head of the U.N. agency that keeps an eye on nuclear issues said that a team was headed to Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant on Monday, as both Russia and Ukraine accused each other of shelling in the area, making people worry about a radiation disaster.

Zaporizhzhia was taken over by Russian troops in March, but it is still run by Ukrainians. It has been a hotspot in a war that has mostly been fought in the east and south of Ukraine six months after Russia invaded.

In a tweet, Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said, "We must protect the safety and security of Ukraine's and Europe's largest nuclear facility."

Grossi said that he will lead a team of IAEA inspectors to the plant on the Dnipro River near the front lines in southern Ukraine this week, but he didn't say what day they would arrive.

The IAEA said in a separate tweet that the mission would look at the physical damage, see how the workers are doing, and "find out if the safety and security systems are working." It would also do "urgent safeguarding activities," which means it would keep track of nuclear materials.

A top Russian diplomat said that Moscow welcomes the IAEA mission, and a Moscow-appointed official in the part of Ukraine that Russia controls said that the U.N. nuclear inspectors would be safe. Both of these things were reported by Russian news agencies.

The UN and Ukraine have asked for military equipment and people to be taken out of Europe's largest nuclear complex so that it doesn't become a target.

The two sides have been accusing each other for days that their attacks are just asking for trouble.

Authorities in Zaporizhzhia are giving out iodine tablets and teaching people how to use them in case of a radiation leak because of growing fears of a nuclear accident in a country that is still haunted by the 1986 Chornobyl disaster.


The plant is in the town of Enerhodar, which is on the Dnipro River. On Sunday night, the chief of staff of the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, posted a video of firefighters putting out fires in cars on his Telegram channel.

Andriy Yermak said, "They make trouble and try to force people to do what they want."

Liliia Vaulina, who is 22, is one of a growing number of Enerhodar refugees who have fled to the city of Zaporizhzhia, which is held by Ukraine and is about 50 km (30 miles) upriver from the plant. She said she hoped the IAEA mission would lead to the demilitarisation of the area.

She told Reuters, "I think they will stop the bombing."

Olexandr Noraiev, 34, a volunteer at the refugee centre in Zaporizhzhia, said up to 2,000 people were arriving there every day, mostly from southern Russian-occupied areas including Kherson and Mariupol. But he said that after more shelling in the area of the nuclear plant, more people were now coming from there.

The Group of Seven major industrialised democracies were glad to see the IAEA inspectors come, but they still worried about how safe the plant would be if it was run by Russia.

The Non-Proliferation Directors' Group of the G7 said in a statement, "We reaffirm that the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and the electricity it makes belong to Ukraine."

Earlier, the Ukraine's military said that nine more towns on the north side of the Dnieper river, across from the Zaporizhzhia plant, had been shelled.

Over the weekend, the Ukrainians fired more shells at the plant, according to Russia's defence ministry. Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, said that nine shells fired by the Ukrainian artillery hit the plant's grounds.

"At the moment, full-time technical staff is keeping an eye on the nuclear plant's technical condition and making sure it works. The area around the nuclear power plant is not affected by radiation, "In a statement, he said.

The Russian state news agency said that authorities had shot down a Ukrainian drone that was going to attack a facility at the plant that stores nuclear waste.

Due to shelling, two of the plant's reactors were cut off from the power grid last week.

The Ukrainian state nuclear company Energoatom said it had no new information about attacks on the plant, and Reuters could not confirm the accounts.


In the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, near Bakhmut, Shumy, Yakovlivka, Zaytsevo, and Kodema, Russian forces shelled military and civilian buildings, the Ukrainian military said early Monday.

The governor of Donetsk province, Pavlo Kyrylenko, said that eight civilians were killed on Sunday by Russian strikes in that province.

Russia denies targeting civilians.

In a video address late Sunday night, Zelenskiy said, "The occupiers will feel the consequences of their actions through the actions of our defenders in the future."

"No terrorist will be able to attack our cities without getting caught. They will get an answer for Zaporizhzhia, Orykhiv, Kharkiv, and Donbas "he added.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 as part of what it called a "special military operation" to get its southern neighbour to stop using weapons. When the Russian-led Soviet Union broke up in 1991, Ukraine got its independence. Ukraine's Western allies have said that this is just a stupid excuse for a war of conquest.

Because of the invasion of Ukraine, Europe is now in the middle of its worst war since World War II.

Thousands of people have died, millions have been forced to move, and whole cities have been blown to pieces. The war has also made an energy and food supply crisis a threat to the world economy.

The governor of the region said that Russian shelling has forced more civilians to leave their homes in the east, where three-quarters of the population has left the front-line province of Donetsk, which is part of the larger Donbas region.

In response to Russia's invasion, Sweden and Finland are pushing to join NATO. On Monday, when Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba was in Stockholm, Sweden announced that it would give Ukraine nearly $50 million more in military aid.

Kuleba asked Sweden to send things like howitzers and shells as weapons. He said, "Every euro, every bullet, and every shell matters."

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