MELITOPOL, November 20. /TASS/. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be given access to the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant after the shelling by Ukrainian troops strictly within their mandate, Renat Karchaa, an adviser to the head of Russia’s Rosenergoatom nuclear power engineering company, told TASS on Sunday.
"Access will be given, but strictly within their mandate. They tend to interpret their mandate as "without limitation." It is not so. The IAEA is an organization addressing issues of nuclear security. Naturally, we will give them access to corresponding facilities. But is they want to inspect the facility, which has no relation to nuclear security, access will be denied. Not because we want to conceal anything, but because they should work within their mandate," he said.
He noted however that it may be dangerous for IAEA inspectors to visit the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. "Naturally, it is dangerous. These people (Ukrainian troops - TASS) can open artillery fire any time," he said.
He slammed the agency’s statements that damages at the Zaporozhye nuclear plant are not critical to nuclear security as the height of cynicism. "They have come to saying that the critical infrastructure is intact. And what do they think the critical infrastructure is? For instance, there are reservoirs with turbine oil and a nitrogen and oxygen plant and hydrogen reservoirs next to them. In formal terms, they are not part of a critical infrastructure. But Ukraine shelled them intensely. Can you imagine what can happen when 240 tons of oil catch fire, or when two other facilities explode? What can such fire result in? So, it is the height of cynicism to speak about noncritical damages at a nuclear plant amid shelling. Hence, the conclusion is: it is inadmissible to shoot at a nuclear plant at all!" he said.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said earlier on Sunday that the agencies specialists plan to inspect the ZNPP on Monday morning to assess the damage done by the latest shelling attacks, if the situation is favorable for that. He also said he plans to visit Russia and Ukraine again to ensure the plant’s safety.
The Russian defense ministry said earlier that after a two-month pause Ukrainian troops resumed shelling attacks at the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant. According to the ministry, twenty-five shells were fired at the plant on November 19-20. One of the shells hit the roof of special building No2 storing nuclear fuel. The radiation situation around the plant is normal.
The Zaporozhye nuclear plant is Europe’s biggest nuke plants in operation. Russia took control of it on February 28, shortly after the beginning of the special military operation in Ukraine. The plant continued to operate routinely. The plant was visited by an IAEA mission in early September, leaving several employees as observers. Later, the organization issued a report calling for creating a security zone around the ZNPP to prevent possible emergencies due to combat operations.