The UN nuclear agency warns of the discovery of mines at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant

The International Atomic Energy Agency warned late Monday that its operators had found mines in the vicinity of the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant (southern Ukraine), the largest facility of its kind in Europe, according to a statement. It’s not the first time. Russia confirms that the placement of these explosives for military reasonsAccording to what was reported by the Argentine director of this body, Rafael Grossi. The Kiev government has been condemning since last month that Moscow, which occupies the factory, has a plan to blow it up plants And he puts in this context the situation of the explosives that President Volodymyr Zelensky and the head of military intelligence, Kirillo Budanov, warned about.

Both the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United States have lowered the alarm bell raised by the Kiev authorities in recent weeks. “As I mentioned earlier, the IAEA has been shown previous mine layings outside the perimeter of the site and also at certain sites inland. Our team has forwarded this specific finding to [los responsables de] The factory, they were told, was a military decision, and in an area controlled by the army. “During a tour on July 23, the IAEA team saw some mines located in a buffer zone between the internal and external barriers of the site. Experts reported that they were located in a restricted area that was not accessible to the plant operation personnel and were sitting on their backs to the site. The team did not detect anything within the internal perimeter of the site during the walk,” reads the IAEA statement.

A month ago, Ukraine warned that Russia already had a plan “formulated and approved” to attack the plant. The head of military intelligence at A.A meeting with The new country state The Russian occupation forces had planted mines in the pond that allows the station to cool down. Budanov also said the Russians had moved vehicles with explosives to four of the six reactors. Kiev accused Moscow of preparing a “provocation” and placing “improvised explosive devices” on the roofs of the third and fourth reactors. For its part, the Kremlin warned of a possible Ukrainian “act of sabotage” with “serious consequences”.

In the face of these conflicting accusations, the IAEA requested more access to the scene to verify the facts in an “independent and objective” manner. The United States did not see, however, an imminent danger. The IAEA complaint did not warn that Vladimir Putin might give the order to cause an explosion.

In any case, the city of Zaporizhia has since hosted various drills and trainings to prepare for the scene of an accident or attack reminiscent of the one at the Chernobyl power plant north of Kiev in 1986. Health sources also acknowledge that among the possibilities they are considering, they expect a large number of beds if something happens at the nuclear plant or in its vicinity.

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Coinciding with the announcement by the Atomic Energy Agency, which relies on the United Nations and is based in Vienna, reactors number four and five have been put into shutdown, according to plant management from Moscow. Officials announced on their Telegram social channel that “in order to conduct a scheduled technical inspection of the equipment of power unit number five, the management of the Zaporizhia NPP decided to transfer it to a state of cold shutdown.” “In order to provide steam for the plant’s own needs, the number four reactor plant’s power unit has been converted to a hot shutdown state,” they added.

Ukraine’s state nuclear energy company, Energoatom, has criticized the fact that Russia has put reactor No. 4 into hot shutdown mode, arguing that it contradicts, according to the company, the country’s legislation. On July 24, 2023, the company warned, despite the demands of the National Atomic and Energy Regulatory Authority, Reactor No. 4 of the occupied Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant, while asserting that “these measures are a flagrant violation of the licensing requirements for the operation of this nuclear facility.” “Currently, Unit No. 4 of the station must be operated exclusively in cold shutdown,” the statement was quoted by Efe news agency as saying.

Russia has held the plant since the early days of March 2022 and the place has not ceased to be on the front line of not only fighting, but controversy all this time. This is one of the most sensitive and dangerous points that the Kremlin has conquered in all of Ukraine. Kiev’s fear has especially increased since the beginning of June, and according to various signs and investigations, Russia allegedly flew Another critical facility in Ukraine, the Nova Kakhovka Dam. In the same month, the IAEA said it was aware of the presence of mines near the station’s pond and that these charges, placed in the past outside the station’s perimeter and at various locations within it, were, according to facility personnel, of a “defense” nature.

The plant is located on the banks of the Dnieper in an area of ​​27,000 km2 with 66% in the hands of the invaders. In the midst of the controversy, a mission from the International Atomic Energy Agency is allowed to remain continuously inside the station, although it does not have freedom of movement and has to submit to the decisions of the Russian occupiers. The last time that Argentine director Rafael Grossi visited those facilities was the heavy month of June.

Zaporizhia is also one of the main fronts on which the local army has been carrying out a counterattack since the first days of June with the aim of regaining control over these occupied areas. The front line has been about 50 kilometers from Energodar, the city that hosts the plant, for months.

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