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Russia asks IAEA to ensure Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant security


(Reuters) – Russia urged the International Atomic Energy Agency on Friday to ensure Ukraine does not shell the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, saying it was otherwise operating safely.

Alexei Likhachev, chief executive of the Russian state nuclear energy firm Rosatom, made the comments at a meeting with IAEA chief Rafael Grossi in the Russian city of Kaliningrad, Rosatom said in a statement, after Grossi visited the plant last week.

“We expect concrete steps from the IAEA aimed at preventing strikes by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, both on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and on adjacent territory and critical infrastructure facilities,” Rosatom quoted its chief as saying in a statement.

The IAEA said this week that the power plant was “grappling with … water-related challenges” after the destruction of the Kakhovka dam emptied the vast reservoir on whose southern bank the plant sits.

It also said the military situation in the area had become increasingly tense as Kyiv began a counteroffensive against the Russian forces that have seized control of swathes of eastern and southern Ukraine.

Moscow and Kyiv have regularly accused each other of shelling Europe’s largest nuclear power station, with its six offline reactors. International efforts to establish a demilitarised zone around it have so far failed.

Ukraine this week accused Russia of planning a “terrorist” attack at the plant involving the release of radiation, while Moscow on Friday detained five people who it said were planning to smuggle radioactive caesium-137 at the request of a Ukrainian buyer in order to stage a nuclear incident.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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