French President Emmanuel Macron restated France’s support for sending an expert group from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant during his meeting with IAEA chief Rafael Grossi, the Élysée Palace said in a statement Thursday.
“The President of the Republic reiterated his support for the deployment of an IAEA expert mission to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as soon as possible to address nuclear safety and security issues and safeguards, while respecting Ukraine’s full sovereignty over its territory and infrastructure,” the Élysée said.
“(Macron) confirmed that the Director General could count on France’s support to ensure that the IAEA mission would have safe and unhindered access to the plant and could carry out its mission without interference,” the statement said.
The French president praised Grossi’s efforts in the past few months to ensure the security of nuclear power plants in Ukraine. His comments also come after shelling intensified around the massive Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe’s largest, which has been under Russian control since March.
CNN previously reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed for a mission from the IAEA to access the plant via territory controlled by Ukrainian forces during a call with Macron last week, according to a source from the Élysée Palace.
Some context: Both Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for security and military action at and around the plant. The lack of independent access to the plant makes it impossible to verify what is happening there. Over the past month, a number of rockets and shells have landed on the territory of the plant, according to satellite imagery analyzed by CNN.