Ukrainian energy minister says IAEA should insist on demilitarization of nuclear plant

Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko on Friday urged the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to insist that a military presence at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is unacceptable.

Halushchenko said on Ukrainian television that “The IAEA mission must state that the presence of the military, the presence of weapons at the station is a real threat to nuclear safety. This is obvious.”

After a relatively quiet night around the plant and in the nearby city of Enerhodar, Halushchenko said the IAEA specialists at the site “can rise to another level by assessing such significant violations of nuclear safety.”

“The part of the mission that is currently left on the station will be key one. It is planned that it will stay there for three to four days,” Halushchenko said.

“Recommendations and reports of the IAEA should be sent to Ukraine, the operating organization of the ZNPP — Energoatom. And we must implement these recommendations … But for that we need to have access to the station. It should be returned under the control of Ukraine,” Halushchenko said.

Shutdown risks: Halushchenko said a controlled shutdown of the plant would not alleviate the risks there.

“Whether the power plant releases the energy to the grid or not does not affect the issue of the nuclear safety. Because even if the power plant does not operate and does not produce the energy — the nuclear material is still there … in the holding pools, and in the storage of the spent fuel on the Zaporizhzhia NPP,” he said.

“So while the nuclear material is still there, there is still a certain hazard present.”

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