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Cooling towers of the Rovne nuclear power plant in Varash, Ukraine.
Cooling towers of the Rovne nuclear power plant in Varash, Ukraine. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency will visit Ukraine next week to regularly provide safety experts at all of the country’s nuclear power plants.

“Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi will be in Ukraine next week to ensure the continued presence of nuclear safety and security experts at all of the country’s nuclear power facilities, significantly strengthening the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) efforts to help prevent nuclear weapons. An accident during an ongoing military conflict,” the UN nuclear watchdog said in a statement.

While members of the IAEA team are already stationed at the Russian-controlled Zaporozhye nuclear power station, experts will also be stationed at the Khmelnytskyi nuclear power plant in western Ukraine “in the coming days.” According to the IAEA, Grossi will visit the Southern Ukraine and Rovne nuclear power plants, as well as the Chernobyl site – to establish the missions of two IAEA members at each site.

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Grossi will also meet with senior Ukrainian officials in Kiev to discuss the creation of a nuclear safety and security protection zone around Zaporozhye, which has been called for several times. Kyiv has accused Russia of using the plant as a cover for an attack, knowing that Ukraine could not fire back without risking hitting one of the plant’s six reactors. And Moscow announced that Ukrainian troops targeted the target.

“I am determined to make the much needed defense zone a reality as soon as possible. My consultations with Ukraine and Russia are progressing, although not as quickly as needed. I hope we can agree and implement the zone soon,” said Grossi.

According to the statement, the Zaporozhye plant’s last remaining 330-kilovolt backup power line has been reconnected to the plant after it was disconnected last week.

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Grossi also “reiterated ZNPP staff’s serious concerns about pressure with potential implications for nuclear safety and security,” the statement said.

“ZNPP’s downsizing has created an unprecedented situation that no NPP employee has to endure due to the psychological stress caused by the ongoing military conflict and the absence of family members who have fled the region,” he said.

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