The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) rejects allegations that its recent visit to a Ukrainian nuclear power plant was “manipulated,” despite the West’s accusations against Russia of seeking to curtail the inspection.
"We are never manipulated…We know what we need to do. And we listen, of course, respectfully, to all this noise. But our ability is to, you know, keep focus on what we need to do," the United Nations nuclear watchdog’s Secretary-General Rafael Grossi said on Friday after returning from a trip to the plant
“We've seen what I requested to see. Everything I requested to see - even as we were going along, when something we thought should be seen, I said, 'I want to go here and there' and we saw everything,” he added.
The IAEA chief also said he planned to issue a report on the safety of the nuclear plant, Europe's largest, early next week.
Grossi said six IAEA staff members remained at Zaporizhzhia, adding that the number would be reduced to two next week and those two would be the IAEA's continuous presence there in the longer term.
Russia seized the Zaporizhzhia plant in southeastern Ukraine after launching a military operation in the ex-Soviet republic in February.
The operation is aimed at “demilitarizing” the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas, which is made up of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics, among other things.
Back in 2014, the republics broke away from Ukraine, refusing to recognize a Western-backed Ukrainian government there that had overthrown a democratically-elected Russia-friendly administration.
Announcing the operation, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the mission was aimed at “defending people who for eight years are suffering persecution and genocide by the Kiev regime.”