Why Russia Denied IAEA Entry to Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant

Ukrainian Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

International nuclear safety investigators are reportedly being prevented from entering the Ukrainian Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant facility by Russian soldiers.

The biggest nuclear power plant in Europe has been held by Russia since it was taken just days into its invasion of Ukraine in February.

Since then, the facility has been a source of concern on a global scale owing to shelling damage that sparked worries about a nuclear disaster.

An area of the plant that was only around 100 meters away from the reactor buildings was shelled on several days last week.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) director general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, has repeatedly urged for an IAEA mission to the plant so that specialists may analyze the damage and judge the working conditions of the Ukrainian staff members who are still maintaining the facility’s operations.

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A witness told Reuters that an IAEA team was traveling in a convoy of cars as it left Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, earlier on Wednesday towards the facility.

It’s believed that Grossi is in charge of the mission.

IAEA crew

However, Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-appointed regional official for Zaporizhzhia, posted on Telegram the same day that the IAEA team “will stand in line” to access the area and “will not be given special passes” because the crew is seeking to reach the facility via Ukrainian territory rather than Russian.

He said, “And they could safely, quickly and without obstacles get from Russia through the liberated territory.” His remarks have been translated from Russian.

Meanwhile, Yevhen Balitsky, described by Russia’s TASS news agency as head of the “military-civilian administration” of Zaporizhzhia, told the state-owned Russia-24 TV news channel: “We were asked to speed it up. I said no, let them stand in line like everyone else … let them talk to people in queues.”

How long the lines will take to get through and how long the IAEA team will have to wait are both unknown.

Due to the alleged damage from previous shelling as well as the power outages on August 25, Grossi will probably be eager to access the plant as soon as possible.

Even though power was finally restored, according to Grossi, it exposed the massive nuclear power plant’s potential vulnerability.