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An uptick in fighting in recent weeks near the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear facility in southern Ukraine, Europe’s largest, has led to fears of a nuclear accident. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) wants to send a mission to inspect the plant but has yet to gain access. In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi expressed hope that the visit would take place within “days”.


Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on the need to send a team from the IAEA to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

Asked if talks on gaining access to the facility had succeeded, Grossi said “we are very, very close to that”, while cautioning that the operation was “extremely complex”. Pressed on a timeline, the IAEA chief said he hoped the mission would take place within “days”.

Faced with the risk of a nuclear accident at Zaporizhzhia, “we need to go there, we need to stabilise the situation, we need to ensure a presence of the IAEA soon,” he stressed.

Grossi also reacted to the ongoing talks to save the embattled 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The IAEA is “expecting a breakthrough as soon as possible”, he told FRANCE 24’s Genie Godula.