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Russia comments on IAEA nuclear plant report

It is regrettable that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would not identify the culprit for the shelling of the Zaporozhye power plant, while its proposal to demilitarize the facility is “not serious,” Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said on Tuesday. 

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi personally led a team of inspectors to the Russian-held facility last week, and witnessed an artillery attack firsthand. However, the IAEA report on the visit, published earlier on Tuesday, made no mention of who was shelling the Zaporozhye NPP, even though the Ukrainian General Staff has publicly admitted to targeting nearby Energodar.

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“I cannot make that determination,” Grossi told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “We do not have the means to do that. As you know, you would need to be looking or monitoring the military operation in the region and all its vastness, which is not only beyond the mandate of the IAEA, but would require enormous capabilities.” 

Nebenzia, who has previously provided evidence of Ukrainian culpability to the UN, said the watchdog’s reluctance was regrettable. He also noted that Kiev made a “monstrous attempt” to capture the power plant during the IAEA team’s visit.

Grossi’s proposal to demilitarize Zaporozhye is “not serious,” Nebenzia told journalists in New York, explaining that Russian troops are providing security to the plant and withdrawing them would allow Ukraine to seize it.

“It is not militarized, anyway,” the Russian envoy to the UN said, adding that “there is no artillery there, only trucks used to transport the guards” who protect the facility. The IAEA report mentioned this as well.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres has called on both Kiev and Moscow to “not engage in military activities” in and around the nuclear power plant.

Grossi told CNN he wasn’t calling for “demilitarization” but something “more modest,” calling it a “nuclear safety and security protection zone” that would get a “commitment from all sides to avoid any aiming at the plant, any shelling at the plant.”

Russian troops secured Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in early March, and it functioned normally until mid-July, when Moscow says Ukrainian forces began attacking it with drones and US-supplied artillery. Kiev had claimed that Russia was staging false-flag attacks to make Ukraine look bad, while stationing heavy weapons inside the facility.

The IAEA “abdicated its duty” and “turned a blind eye” to the Ukrainian shelling, even after being presented with exhaustive evidence of Kiev’s culpability, Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Zaporozhye civilian-military administration, told RIA Novosti.

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