After warning, Putin accepts inspection of Ukraine’s    nuclear power plant

After warning, Putin accepts inspection of Ukraine’s nuclear power plant

Posted on 08/20/2022 07:00

    (Image credit: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP)

(Image credit: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP)

In a telephone conversation, Presidents Vladimir Putin (Russia) and Emmanuel Macron (France) approved sending International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southcentral Ukraine. The nuclear power plant was bombed, for which Moscow and Kyiv blame each other. The Kremlin acknowledges that the IAEA delegation will aim to “assess the actual situation on the ground”. The United Nations (UN) has warned of the danger of a nuclear catastrophe if one of the reactors is hit. SecretaryGeneral António Guterres said any damage to the facility would be “suicide” and called for an end to military activities in the region. He also urged Russia not to disconnect the power plant from Ukraine’s power grid. “Obviously, the electricity in Zaporizhia is Ukrainian electricity… This principle must be fully respected,” he defended.

Putin himself acknowledged the danger of a nuclear accident, noting that the Ukrainian army was “systematically” bombing the Zaporizhia region occupied by Russian forces. The French government acknowledged that Putin accepted Ukraine’s verification mission “taking into account Ukrainian sovereignty”. Satellite images showed Russian army trucks parked next to the turbines of one of the plant’s reactors.

In conversation with post, said John Erath senior policy director at the Center for Arms Control and NonProliferation (Washington) that he hoped IAEA inspectors would be able to visit the site and properly assess the situation. “It was difficult to plan a visit because Russia insisted on recognizing its right to control the territory that is legally part of Ukraine. The nuclear power plant is near the border between Russian occupation and free Ukraine. Therefore, there is an opportunity to fight in the region as long as Russian troops remain there,” he said.

According to Erath, the ban on access for international observers has so far prevented the West from taking a clear look at the situation in Zaporizhia. “It seems that the Russians placed military equipment in the nuclear power plant because they knew that Ukraine would not attack the facilities given the risk of an environmental disaster. It is a highly irresponsible action as the consequences of the release of radiation would be serious,” he warned.

The expert on nuclear nonproliferation stressed that Ukraine has no interest in a maneuver that would cause a radioactive catastrophe. “For its part, Russia is trying to occupy parts of Ukrainian territory and force a collapse of Ukraine’s democratically elected government, which would be replaced by a regime under Moscow’s influence. Controlling the energy supply would help the Kremlin in this,” Erath said.

He does not rule out that Russia will use the possibility of an attack by Ukraine as a pretext to disconnect Zaporizhia from the Ukrainian grid, which would result in the country losing 20% ​​of its electricity. “Winter is coming. Thousands of civilians could starve or freeze to death. Unable to achieve its goals on the battlefield, Russia can arm the winter,” added Erath.

Lawyer Hryhorii Nemchenko, a resident of the town of Zaporizhia, about 100 km from the nuclear power plant, is skeptical about the inspection of the facilities. “I don’t think IAEA officials will have the opportunity to verify the actual situation of the nuclear power plant. But the threat continues, although today we saw no clear signs of a detonation or heavy bombing of the nuclear power plant,” he told the report. Nemchenko also believes that it is possible that Russia will try to stop deliveries to certain regions of Ukraine, which will have serious consequences in the winter. According to him, Russian armed forces are actively moving in the area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe nuclear power plant. “The Ukrainian authorities are concerned about the deteriorating situation on August 24, Ukraine’s Independence Day. Russia could take unexpected measures,” Nemchenko warned.