What can the IAEA achieve in Zaporizhzhia?
A team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) hopes to contain one of the worst crises triggered by the Ukraine War and is on its way to investigate the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe. The plant is on the front line of the war, occupied by Russian troops and coming under fire.
A delicate task
The nuclear experts could not have waited for the situation to settle down, Libération stresses:
“Do the Russians really know what they are doing in this nuclear power plant turned military base? ... They've been in control for five months now, and the International Atomic Energy Agency, tired of waiting for the situation to calm down, will try to get in in the coming days. ... There are no indications that we are even at the end of the beginning of this merciless war. As the exhausted staff in Zaporizhzhia will probably not be able to hold out much longer, the IAEA delegation faces a critical mission for peace in Europe.”
Protect all nuclear plants in the region
Delaying important decisions could be dangerous for everyone, Lietuvos rytas warns:
“A visit to the nuclear power plant followed by statements about the risks is not enough. It is necessary to determine with the help of military experts who is firing from where and on whose orders. Nowadays this can be done very precisely, and important decisions can be made at the UN level. After all, a disaster at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant poses a threat to the whole world. Delaying strict measures against the identified perpetrator should be equated with a crime against humanity. Additional safety measures must apply to other nuclear plants on Ukrainian territory as well as to the Astrav Nuclear Power Plant in Belarus.”
Inspectors are technicians, not blue helmets
Radio Kommersant FM warns against expecting too much from the inspection:
“[IAEA chief] Grossi has not ruled out the possibility that part of his group will stay permanently at Zaporizhzhia and monitor safety on an ongoing basis. Apparently they believe that as long as experts are in the facility, it will not be fired upon. ... The members of the IAEA mission are technical specialists. They do not make policy, and they certainly have no authority to separate the parties to the conflict. Nevertheless it looks as if they are expected to make a political assessment. Some are speculating that these experts are meant to show the public who is taking the risk of causing a nuclear apocalypse. For the time being, however, this doesn't seem very realistic.”