UN boosting presence in Ukraine ‘to avert serious nuclear accident’

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The UN nuclear watchdog announced it was boosting its presence in Ukraine to help prevent a nuclear accident during the current conflict, AFP reports.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it would soon have a permanent presence at all five of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities, including Chernobyl – the plant closed after the 1986 disaster.

The agency’s chief, Rafael Grossi, will visit Ukraine next week to get the operation under way, the agency added in a statement.

“We must continue to do everything we can to avert the danger of a serious nuclear accident that would cause even more suffering and destruction for the people of Ukraine and beyond,” said Grossi.

The decision marks a major expansion of the IAEA’s activities in Ukraine. At the moment, only the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia plant, which is near the frontline, has a permanent IAEA presence.

But under the new plan, 11 or 12 of the agency’s experts will be present in Ukraine to monitor the plants and provide technical assistance.

Ukraine’s prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, announced the plan in December after a meeting with Grossi, although he did not at that time give many details.

Inspectors will soon be deployed at the nuclear stations in Rivne, Khmelnytskyi, Pivdennoukrainska and Chernobyl.

During his visit next week Grossi will also meet senior Ukrainian officials as part of his efforts to set up a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the Zaporizhzhia plant.

Photo – (FILE) – The Safe Confinement covering the 4th block of Chernobyl Nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine. EPA-EFE/OLEG PETRASYUK


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