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Russia, Ukraine ‘ready to work’ with IAEA, UN nuclear watchdog chief says

‘Both sides agree that something needs to be done,’ Grossi tells reporters after Russia takes control of Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia nuclear plants, raising alarm across globe

This image made from a video released by Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant shows a bright flaring object landing in the grounds of the nuclear plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine, on March 4, 2022. (Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant via AP)
This image made from a video released by Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant shows a bright flaring object landing in the grounds of the nuclear plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine, on March 4, 2022. (Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant via AP)

VIENNA — Moscow and Kyiv are “ready to work” with the UN atomic watchdog to ensure nuclear safety, its head said Thursday, after Russia took control of Europe’s largest power plant in Ukraine.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has expressed concern about nuclear safety and security after Russian forces took over the Zaporizhzhia plant, as well as Chernobyl, the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident.

Seeking to address this, IAEA director-general Rafael Grossi met Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in separate meetings in Antalya in Turkey.

“We had good meetings, not easy ones, but serious meetings,” he told reporters after returning to Vienna, where the IAEA is based.

“Both sides agree… that something needs to be done. They are both ready to work and to engage with the IAEA.”

He said he would try to “have something more concrete” in the next few days.

“It’s a very dire situation and we need to move fast,” he said.

Power has been cut to the Chernobyl nuclear plant, Ukraine said Wednesday, but the IAEA said there was “no critical impact on safety.”

The IAEA said data transmission was also lost at the Zaporizhzhia atomic plant, Europe’s largest.

Russian forces shelled and captured the Zaporizhzhia plant on March 4, causing a fire that raised alarm in Europe about a possible nuclear catastrophe.

Earlier, on the day Russia invaded Ukraine, its troops seized the defunct Chernobyl plant, site of a 1986 disaster that killed hundreds and spread radioactive contamination west across Europe.

On Tuesday, the IAEA had voiced concern for staff working under Russian guard at the site that houses decommissioned reactors as well as radioactive waste facilities.

More than 2,000 staff still work at the plant as it requires constant management to prevent another nuclear disaster.

Ukraine has four active nuclear power plants, providing about half the country’s electricity, as well as stores of nuclear waste such as the one at Chernobyl.

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