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Team of IAEA monitors finally reaches Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

A new team of monitors from the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, has taken up its post at Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station after a delay of almost a month, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi announced on Thursday.

Russia has accused the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of disrupting the latest monthly staff rotation, which had been put back three times.

Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, with six reactors, was occupied by Russian troops early in their invasion of Ukraine and remains near the front line.

The @iaeaorg expert team is crossing the front line & when necessary, even by foot. The ISAMZ rotation at Zaporizhzhya #NPP is now completed. I am incredibly proud of the professionalism of our staff. Very thankful to the @UN for their support. The IAEA will not stop.

— Rafael MarianoGrossi (@rafaelmgrossi) March 2, 2023

With each side accusing the other of shelling it and risking a nuclear accident, IAEA monitors have been posted at the station since September.

In a statement, Grossi said their presence was “indispensable to help reduce the risk of a nuclear accident”.

“Our courageous experts – working closely with the plant’s operating staff – are providing technical advice and monitoring the situation in extremely difficult and challenging circumstances,” he added.

Renat Karchaa, adviser to the general director of the Russian nuclear agency Rosenergoatom, told the state-run TASS news agency that three IAEA monitors had arrived along with four U.N. security personnel.

Grossi said on Monday that IAEA monitors had reported more explosions near the plant, which on Wednesday lost its only remaining back-up power line for the third time in less than week. He has been pressing both sides to establish a demilitarized “safe zone” around the station.

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