IAEA mission determined to reach Ukrainian nuclear plant despite delays -spokesperson

By Tom Balmforth

ZAPORIZHZHIA REGION, UKRAINE (Reuters) -Ukraine said a UN team on its way to inspect the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Thursday was stuck at a checkpoint about 20 km (12.4 miles) from the front line after reports of fresh shelling earlier in the day.

The director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watchdog, remained determined to reach Europe’s largest nuclear power plant on Thursday despite hours of delays, a spokesperson told Reuters.

Ukraine’s state nuclear company Energoatom told Reuters that the convoy was waiting at a Ukrainian checkpoint for the situation near the plant to become safe before proceeding.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which was occupied by Russia in March, has come under frequent shelling over the past month, with Kyiv and Moscow trading blame over the strikes and fuelling fears of a radiation disaster.

The IAEA spokesperson told Reuters around 12:00 local time (0900 GMT) that the mission, headed by IAEA chief Rafael Grossi, had been delayed on the Ukrainian-controlled side for three hours.

“Director General Grossi has personally negotiated with Ukrainian military authorities to be able to proceed and he remains determined that this important mission reaches the (Zaporizhzhia plant) today,” the spokesperson said.

(Reporting by Tom Balmforth in Zaporizhzhia region and Max Hunder in Kyiv; editing by Jason Neely)


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