Last week, fighting in the area temporarily cut off the plant from Ukraine’s power grid for the first time in its 40-year history, with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying the incident led to a radiation catastrophe are narrowly avoided thanks to backup generators.
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.
The factory has been under Russian control since March, but Ukrainian engineers continue to operate it.
The Ukrainian nuclear agency, Energoatom, said earlier Monday that the Russians increased pressure on the station’s staff ahead of the arrival of the IAEA mission to avoid revealing evidence of the occupiers’ crimes at the factory and its use as a military base. It provided no evidence for the claim.
Ukraine’s allies have urged Russia to hand over control, and the UN has warned that any attack on the factory would be “suicidal”.
The news of the IAEA mission came as the US accused Russia Sunday 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.
Kiev and Moscow have been blaming the shelling on the factory for weeks.
Mykhailo Podolyak, a top advisor to Zelenskyy, called the shelling Russia’s “cynical” attempt to intimidate the local population, blame the Ukrainian military and conceal its “nuclear crimes”.
There was no immediate response from Moscow.
A day earlier, Ukrainian officials accused Russian troops of firing rockets and artillery into Ukrainian-occupied areas across the river. But Russia accused Ukrainian artillery units of shelling around the facility three times in the past 24 hours. Ministry of Defense of Russia said some shells exploded near structures containing nuclear fuel.
NBC News was unable to verify either party’s claims.
in his latest update On Sunday, the IAEA said that while Ukraine reported renewed shelling in recent days, it said all security systems were operational and there was no increase in radiation levels.
News of the agency’s mission to Zaporizhzhya was welcomed by the Group of Seven countries, including the US. In a statement released Monday, it said IAEA personnel should “have timely, safe and barrier-free access to all nuclear facilities in Ukraine”. ”