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IAEA chief slams 'unacceptable' shelling near nuclear plant

September 2, 2022

The head of the UN's nuclear watchdog said the physical conditions of the facilities at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant are "poor" due to ongoing fighting and shelling in the area. Follow DW for the latest.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi stands near a damaged section of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant
The IAEA delegation will stay at the Zaporizhzhia plant to complete its assessment Image: Sergei Malgavko/TASS]/dpa/picture alliance

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, sharply criticized ongoing fighting near Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as posing an "unacceptable" danger to the site.

"With this increase of military activity, the physical integrity is more compromised," Grossi told reporters on Friday following an inspection of the site.

"It is obvious that the statistical possibility of more physical damage is present," he added.

Grossi and his 14-strong team arrived at the plant on Thursday to inspect possible damage to Europe's largest nuclear power facility in the midst of intense fighting.

The inspectors were able to gain access to all areas of the plant, the IAEA chief said.

He added that the operating conditions for the staff "continues to be a main point of concern" for the UN nuclear watchdog.

Grossi said the IAEA expects to produce a report on the plant by early next week. Two staff from the agency will remain on the site for a longer term to monitor the situation.

IAEA condemns shelling near plant

Heavy fighting and shelling in the southern Ukrainian district of Enerhodar — the location of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia plant — continued despite the arrival of the team of IAEA inspectors, the UK's Ministry of Defense reported on Friday.

The Ukrainian army also said it bombed a Russian base in the town of Enerhodar near the nuclear plant.

On Thursday, the delegation was given a tour of the facility by Russian forces. Grossi said they would remain there until it had finished its assessment.

The plant has been occupied by Russian forces since the early days of the war — although still run by Ukrainian engineers — and was briefly disconnected from the Ukrainian power grid following shelling. Both sides have blamed each other for targeting the plant.

Here's a look at some of the other major news stories from Russia's war in Ukraine, on September 2.

Zelenskyy criticizes 'fruitless tour' of Zaporizhzhia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has welcomed the arrival of the IAEA delegation in Zaporizhzhia, but he lamented the fact that Russian forces barred international journalists from joining the tour and that Grossi failed to call for the demilitarization of the area.

"Ukraine did everything to make this mission happen," he said in his address late on Thursday. "But it is bad that the occupiers are trying to turn this IAEA mission — a really necessary one — into a fruitless tour of the plant.

"When we met with Mr. Grossi and members of the mission in Kyiv, we agreed that the mission would be accompanied by journalists from Ukrainian and international media," Zelenskyy continued. "Unfortunately, this wasn't done. Although it was promised."

A map showing the location of the nuclear plants in Ukraine

While laying the blame at the feet of the "occupiers," the president also held the IAEA accountable for failing to "protect the representatives of independent media."

He also said he had spoken with Grossi about demilitarization, but regretted that "we have not yet heard the appropriate calls from the IAEA."

Russia's Gazprom announces indefinite halt of Nord Stream 1 pipeline 

Russian energy giant Gazprom announced that it would not resume the flow of gas via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline as previously expected.

The pipeline, one of the main supply routes to Western Europe, is now indefinitely shut down.

The announcement prompted swift criticism from European officials and deepened concerns over securing enough fuel for the winter.

Nord Stream 1, which runs under the Baltic Sea to supply Germany and others, was running at only 20% capacity even before flows were halted for three days this week for maintenance.

Moscow has blamed Western sanctions for hampering routine operations and maintenance of Nord Stream 1, but Brussels says this is a pretext and Russia is using gas as an economic weapon to retaliate.

UN: Food prices fall for fifth month in a row

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization said on Friday that global foodstuff prices had fallen in August, for the fifth month in a row.

The prices of several agricultural products reached record highs in March, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine and imposed a blockade on its Black Sea ports.

Average prices fell by 1.9% in August. For vegetable oils, in particular, the decrease was 3.3%, bringing prices lower even than they were in August 2021.

Ukrainian PM asks Germany for tanks ahead of Berlin trip

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has called on Germany to provide more advanced weaponry to fight Russian forces.

"We need a shift in the philosophy behind weapons deliveries. With that I mean that modern tanks should also be delivered," Shmyhal said in an interview with the German news agency dpa.

"We are expecting the US to supply Abrams tanks and Germany to supply Gepard 2 tanks. These are the modern tanks that Ukraine needs on the battlefield," he added.

The comments came ahead of the prime minister's visit to Berlin on Saturday where he will meet with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Shmyhal will be the highest-ranking Ukrainian official to travel to Germany since the war began.

Germany has been hesitant to provide heavy weaponry to Ukraine due to cautiousness about any form of military intervention in ongoing conflicts.

Shmyhal welcomed Germany's "immense progress" in supplying Ukraine, having gone from just sending helmets to sending state-of-the-art weapons. But no NATO country has yet provided Ukraine with equipment on the scale of tanks.

es,ab/rt (AP, dpa, AFP, Reuters)