by Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
KYIV/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) director-general is rushing to avoid a nuclear disaster in Ukraine while trying to stop Iran develop a nuclear weapon soon, his latest comments suggest.
Rafael Grossi spoke first about Europe’s largest nuclear plant in Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine after the 36th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. That Ukrainian plant was also taken over by Russian troops who even moved radioactive dust there, experts and witnesses said.
Grossi stressed that the IAEA needs access to the Zaporizhzhia plant so its inspectors can reestablish crucial connections with the Vienna-based headquarters of the U.N. agency. But for that to happen, both Russia and Ukraine need to help. However, instead, Moscow reportedly sends missiles and troops nearby Europe’s biggest nuclear sites, such as Zaporizhzhia, while Ukrainians appear reluctant to cooperate.
The Zaporizhzhia plant requires repairs, “and all of this is not happening. So the situation as I have described it, and I would repeat it today, is not sustainable as it is,” Grossi told The Associated Press (AP) news agency. “So this is a pending issue. This is a red light blinking.”
He suggested that in talks with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, it had become clear that Kyiv doesn’t want “IAEA inspectors to go to one of their own facilities under the authority of a third power,” Russia. It’s something that will still require consultations. We are not there yet.”
Grossi also made clear he has the Middle East on his mind, with Iran potentially reportedly being able to have a nuclear weapon within months or even weeks.
He confirmed that Iran’s ability to enrich uranium since the collapse of the 2015 nuclear deal had expanded as it uses more-advanced centrifuges.
“They are transferring the centrifuge producing capacity to a place where they feel they are more protected,” Grossi added. He referred to Tehran having recently moved a centrifuge workshop to its underground Natanz nuclear facility after a suspected Israeli attack.
He urged Russia and the West to find “common denominators” that could allow the continuation of talks with Iran on a return to the deal.
“We cannot afford to stop. We have to continue. It’s in the world’s interest; it’s in their own interest that the nuclear situation … is successful,” he stressed. “I cannot imagine a geostrategic scenario where more nuclear weapons, proliferation, in the Middle East would help anybody or anything,” Grossi told AP.
Last year, the IAEA found uranium particles at two Iranian sites it inspected after months of stonewalling, adding to concerns in Israel which long warned of Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
Iran’s Islamic leadership has long publicly announced it seeks the destruction of Israel.
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