U.N. inspectors head to Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine

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Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Monday the mission will be “the toughest in IAEA history” given the active fighting on the ground.

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 narrowly avoided a radiation catastrophe for the world.

On Friday, Ukrainian authorities began distributing iodine tablets to residents near the plant in the event of a future radiation leak, bringing back painful memories in a country still haunted by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Ukraine’s allies have urged Russia to hand over control, and the UN has warned that any attack on the factory would be “suicidal”.

Kiev and Moscow have been blaming the shelling on the factory for weeks. NBC News was unable to verify either party’s claims.

News of the IAEA mission came as Ukraine appeared to be launching its long-awaited counteroffensive against Russian-occupied territories to the south, including the Kherson region.

“Today we have launched offensive actions in different directions,” Natalia Humeniuk, spokesman for the southern military command, told Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne.

Military observers have been anticipating a ground counterattack in the south for months, while Kiev has seemingly targeted Russian weapons depots and other military installations behind its defenses there and in nearby Crimea, annexed by Moscow in 2014.

Humeniuk later addressed reporters, expressing caution and calling for patience.

“We are not explaining the start of the offensive or the end of the offensive,” she said in an enlightening commentary by phone. “But under the pressure of our actions, the enemy began to retreat. It is currently recorded that the enemy has withdrawn from some of its positions.”

NBC News has not verified the claim.

The Zaporizhzhya plant has been under Russian control since Kremlin troops conquered land in the south in March, but Ukrainian engineers continue to operate the plant.

Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear power company, Energoatom, said earlier Monday that Russia increased pressure on the station’s staff ahead of the arrival of the IAEA mission to prevent them from revealing evidence of the occupiers’ crimes at the plant and the use it as a military base. .” It provided no evidence for the claim.

In its latest update on Sunday, the IAEA said that despite reports of renewed shelling in recent days, all security systems remained operational and there was no increase in radiation levels.

The United States accused Russia of failing to recognize the “serious radiological risk” at the plant and blocking the final draft of a revision of a key UN treaty on nuclear non-proliferation on the matter.

News of the mission to Zaporizhzhya was welcomed by the Group of Seven countries, including the US. In a statement released Monday, it said IAEA personnel must have “timely, safe and unimpeded access” to all nuclear facilities in Ukraine.


Anastasiia Parafeniuk contributed.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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