In its weekly meeting with the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRIU), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said that Russian forces have located more weapons and explosives in and around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP). With a nuclear power plant operating in an active combat zone, both Kyiv and the international community worry about the dangerous possibility of a Chernobyl-type accident.

“Representatives of the IAEA reported the fact that Russian occupants had located military equipment, weapons and explosives in the turbine room of Zaporizhzhya NPP Unit 4. This became known during the weekly meeting on communication between the IAEA Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC) and the SNRIU about the activities of the IAEA mission at the Zaporizhzhya NPP site, which was held on May 2, 2023,” the SNRIU reported on its website. The first mentions of the placement of equipment by the Russian occupiers at the nuclear plant appeared at the end of July 2022.

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“The IAEA has maintained its continued presence at ZNPP for almost eight months to assess the nuclear safety and security situation at ZNPP based on the Seven Indispensable Pillars of Nuclear Safety and Nuclear Security,” noted the IAEA in its weekly report on the status of the ZNPP. The agency keeps the Ukrainian government informed of Russian activities each week and posts weekly press releases on its website.

The IAEA’s report continues to express concerns over both Russian activities and the dangers of having an operating nuclear plant in a war zone. In this week’s press release the Director General of the IAEA said:

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“IAEA experts present at Ukraine’s ZNPP were again forced to shelter this week after missile attack warnings, with the sound of continued shelling in the distance as military activity continues in the region. In addition, one landmine exploded near the site,” Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said.

“The increased military presence and activity in the region again underlines the importance and urgency of agreeing on the protection of the plant,” Grossi added.

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Signaling the real dangers of the situation, the report mentioned: “In a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on 26 April – the 37th Anniversary of the accident at Chornobyl - Director General Grossi confirmed that the IAEA will deploy a new program of medical assistance for personnel at all Ukrainian nuclear power plants, which President Zelensky welcomed.”

The SNRIU also reported that they “had received information through unofficial channels about the storage of equipment, weapons and explosives in other industrial buildings of the ZNPP, including repair and mechanical departments and on the roofs of power units.”

“In the case of emergency at ZNPP with a potential release of radioactive substances into the environment, the consequences will be felt not only by Ukraine, but they will be of a [cross-border nature],” the SNRIU warned.

The Ukrainian government made this appeal to the world: “Nuclear terrorism, which the Russian Federation is committing, is an unacceptable phenomenon in the civilized world.

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“We call on the international community to provide a consolidated and decisive response to the actions of the aggressor country and to apply tough sanctions to the nuclear industry enterprises of the Russian Federation and their affiliates.”

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