Cyprus Mail

Russia says concerned by UN disrupting IAEA staff rotation at Zaporizhzhia plant

file photo: a view shows the zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant outside enerhodar
File photo: The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

Russia on Wednesday expressed “deep concern” over the United Nations’ behaviour regarding the rotation of staff at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

In a statement, Russia’s foreign ministry said the United Nations nuclear body was “disrupting” the scheduled changeover of IAEA staff stationed at the plant, which is under the control of Russian forces, without good reason.

IAEA placed staff at the facility on a permanent basis last September, when repeated shelling had raised the prospect of a possible Chornobyl-like nuclear disaster at Europe’s largest nuclear power site.

The staff were meant to be rotated for a new contingent earlier in February, but the UN Department of Safety and Security has blocked the changeover, citing concerns over the planned entry and exit route from the facility proposed by Russia’s defence ministry, Russia said.

The plant is close to the frontlines of fighting in southern Ukraine.

“Between Feb. 7-18, the UN Department of Safety and Security has three times, without any clear explanations, disrupted the rotation of IAEA specialists at the power plant,” Russia’s foreign ministry said.

It said Russia’s defence ministry had guaranteed in writing the safe arrival and departure of IAEA staff, but the UN had demanded to change the route proposed by Russia.

Moscow said it stood ready to facilitate the rotation of staff before the end of February.

“If the replacement of the IAEA staff is not carried out this time, then we will consider the actions of the UN Department of Safety and Security to be a purposeful attempt to deliberately hinder the work of the IAEA mission,” the foreign ministry said.

Russian forces took control of the power station in the first weeks of the war, and Moscow has since transferred the assets and Ukrainian employees to a Russian company – a move Kyiv says is illegal appropriation.

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