Last week, fighting in the area temporarily disconnected the plant from Ukraine’s power grid for the first time in its 40-year history, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying the incident left the world narrowly avoiding a radiation catastrophe.
On Friday, Ukrainian authorities began distributing iodine tablets to residents near the plant in case of a future radiation leak, bringing back painful memories in a country still haunted by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. .
The plant has been under Russian control since March, but Ukrainian engineers continue to operate it.
Ukraine’s state nuclear agency, Energoatom, said the previous Monday that the Russians “increased pressure” on station personnel before the arrival of the IAEA mission to “prevent them from disclosing evidence of the occupants’ crimes at the plant and its use as a military base.” He did not provide any evidence for the claim.
Ukraine’s allies have urged Russia to hand over control and the UN has warned that any attack on the plant would be “suicidal.”
News of the IAEA mission came as the US. accused Russia on Sunday for failing to acknowledge the “serious radiological risk” at the plant and blocking the final draft of a review of a key UN nuclear non-proliferation treaty on the issue.
Kyiv and Moscow have been trading blame for the plant bombings for weeks.
Mykhailo Podolyak, one of Zelenskyy’s top advisers, I call the bombing of Russia’s “cynical” attempt to intimidate local residents, blame the Ukrainian army for it and hide its “nuclear crimes”.
But the Russian Defense Ministry blamed Ukraine for shelling the city, saying in a statement Monday that two of the shells exploded “very close” to the perimeter of the plant.
NBC News was unable to verify either party’s claims.
In its last update On Sunday, the IAEA said that despite reports of renewed bombing in recent days, all safety systems remained operational and there was no increase in radiation levels.
The news of the mission to Zaporizhzhia was welcomed by the Group of Seven countries, which includes the US. In a statement issued on Monday, it said that IAEA personnel must be able to access all nuclear facilities in Ukraine. “on time, safely and without hindrance”.