IAEA's Grossi: Need quick solution on Ukraine nuclear plant

Shelling at the Russian-held plant has caused a series of power disruptions that threaten to trigger a nuclear meltdown. PHOTO: AFP

KYIV - Talks on demilitarising Europe's largest nuclear plant in Ukraine need a rapid solution to eliminate a "precarious" situation amid continued shelling, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog said on Thursday.

Rafael Grossi, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was speaking after a day of talks with Ukrainian officials.

He also said he had told Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin that the continued detention of the deputy director of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station was unacceptable.

"We need to continue working to protect the plant. As I told (Putin), it continues to be extremely fragile, extremely precarious," Grossi told a news conference after the day of talks in Kyiv.

"I am trying to have this wrapped up as soon as possible ... it is of course counter-intuitive to talk about protecting something that is being shelled," Grossi said.

"...there are days when it seems to be more calm, but then the next day we are again on a blackout and the external power lines are completely cut and we don't know whether it is going to be an emergency... So these things continue. It hasn't improved in any tangible way."

Grossi said the Russian leader told him he was willing to work with his agency.

He had told Putin that the detention of Zaporizhzhia's deputy director, Valeriy Martynyuk, was "not acceptable" and he had intervened to resolve the case - as he had with the previous detention of the plant's director.

Grossi also said he told Putin that the IAEA did not accept Russia's annexation of four Ukrainian regions - including Zaporizhzhia region - but acknowledged that this was a matter that went well beyond nuclear safety.

Grossi was speaking after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called again, in an address to the Council of Europe, for measures to ensure Russia complied with the IAEA's demands to demilitarise the Zaporizhzhia plant.

On Wednesday, Grossi said external power to the plant had been restored after the latest in a series of interruptions caused by shelling that force officials to switch to diesel generators. REUTERS

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