UN nuclear agency to step up presence in Ukraine

Decision marks major expansion in IAEA's activities in the country

At the moment, only the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia plant has a permanent IAEA presence. Reuters
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The UN's nuclear watchdog announced on Friday it would be boosting its presence in Ukraine to help prevent a possible disaster during the conflict with Russia.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said it would soon have a permanent presence at all five of Ukraine's nuclear facilities, including Chernobyl, which closed after the 1986 disaster.

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi will visit Ukraine next week to begin the operation, the agency said 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 Mr 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 front line, has a permanent agency presence.

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

Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmygal announced the plan in December after a meeting with Mr Grossi, although he did not give many details at the time.

Inspectors will soon be send to the nuclear stations in Rivne, Khmelnytskyi, Pivdennoukrainska and Chernobyl.

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

Updated: January 13, 2023, 11:52 PM