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IAEA CHIEF SAYS ON WAY TO KYIV FOR NUCLEAR PLANT TALKS

Following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s request for his government to seize control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor in Ukraine, the head of the UN nuclear agency announced on Wednesday that he was going to Kyiv to discuss the establishment of a security perimeter around the facility.

Since months, Kiev and Moscow have been blaming one another for shelling close to the plant, raising concerns about a nuclear accident akin to the Chernobyl tragedy in Soviet Ukraine in 1986.

Rafael Grossi, the chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), tweeted that the need for a protection zone surrounding the site was “more essential than ever” while on his way to Kyiv for key talks.

He tweeted images of himself boarding a train bearing the Ukrainian Railways emblem.

The biggest power plant in Europe, Zaporizhzhia, has been under Russian control since March.

Grossi, who was to the plant last month as well, has pushed for the construction of a security cordon that both parties would agree not to breach.

The Russian government, however, would “guarantee that the nuclear facilities at the plant… are incorporated as federal property,” according to a directive issued by Putin on Wednesday.

Energoatom, the national nuclear agency of Ukraine, denounced the regulation as “empty, ridiculous, and insufficient.”

According to Energoatom’s social media posts, “Zaporizhzhia NPP will continue to operate in Ukraine, in compliance with Ukrainian law, in the Ukrainian energy system.”

One of the six reactors will be restarted “at reduced power to produce steam and heat for the purposes of the plant,” according to a separate statement from the IAEA, which has two specialists on site at the reactor.

It was stated that finishing up all of the preparations would take “some time.” On September 11, the plant’s final operational reactor was shut down.

One of the four Russian-occupied districts Moscow formally annexed last week, the Zaporizhzhia plant is situated close to the front line in the region of the same name in southern Ukraine.

The annexations came after referendums that the West and Kiev deemed to be a sham.

The permanent representative of Russia to international organisations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, responded to Grossi’s suggestion for a security zone by saying, “We totally share this purpose. The issue is how it will be put into practise.

Rafael Grossi has some useful suggestions, he continued. Both in Kyiv and Russia the following week, they will be discussed.

Speaking outside of an OPEC+ summit in the capital of Austria, Ulyanov expressed scepticism regarding whether Grossi will return to Zaporizhzhia during his journey.

“The security situation is rather volatile,” he said, adding “constant shelling” would mean another visit by Grossi would take time to prepare.

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