Despite Increased Shelling, IAEA Arrives at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant

Despite the tense situation in which Russia’s defense ministry has accused Ukraine of an apparent attempt to capture the nuclear plant on Thursday morning while Kyiv has accused Russian troops of shelling Enerhodar, which houses the nuclear plant, the UN inspectors have finally arrived at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

Stressing that Russia was acting like a terrorist state by shelling Enerhodar and the territory of the plant, the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, has accused Moscow of attempting to wreck IAEA’s inspection visit.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) team was seen arriving at the plant in southeastern Ukraine on Thursday in a large convoy with a heavy presence of Russian soldiers nearby. The delegation had been previously delayed after reports of fighting around the plant.

While UN nuclear inspectors traveled to the facility, one of only two working reactors in the plant was shut down as shelling continued in the area.

Ukraine’s nuclear operator Energoatom said in a statement that the fifth reactor was shut down and its emergency protection system activated due to mortar shelling that has sparked fears of a nuclear accident.

Only two of the six reactors – number five and number six – have been functioning ever since the plant was disconnected from Ukraine’s power grid last Thursday and the remaining reactor continues to work in Ukraine’s energy system and at the same time feeds the ZNPP’s own needs.

Meanwhile, ICRC Director-General Robert Mardini informed that Red Cross was denied access to Ukrainian prisoners of war held at the Russian-held town Olenivka, where dozens were killed in a missile attack in July Ukraine and Russia have traded accusations over.

Mardini said that despite the intense negotiations with Russian authorities, the Red Cross had not been granted access to POWs and lacked security guarantees to carry out such a visit.