I cannot afford to lose patience and must continue my efforts,” said the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Negotiations with Russia and Ukraine to create a buffer zone around the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant are “very complicated”, he told AFP today Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)noting that he cannot “lose his temper” himself.
The Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, has been occupied since early March by Russian forces. It is located in one of the territories annexed by Russia and is not far from the dividing line between territories controlled by Kyiv and those held by Moscow.
While for many months, Moscow and Kyiv have accused each other of bombing the site, the IAEA began discussions weeks ago to create a buffer zone around the site, which the UN Secretary-General in particular called for.
“This takes a long time and I am the first to be impatient but I cannot afford to lose my patience and I must continue my efforts,” Grossi said in an interview with AFP on the sidelines of the COP27 summit in Egypt , IAEA director general talks with presidents of Russia and Ukraine.
“These are very complex negotiations, as you can imagine, with two countries at war not negotiating with each other.”
“I’m trying to convince these two countries to accept the idea of protecting this nuclear plant,” he added, saying he still “hopes” to achieve a “success.”
He underlined, among the difficulties, the fact that his interlocutors are not only diplomats but also military personnel of the two countries.
“This makes the negotiations very sensitive when we talk about the radius (of protection around the power plant), when we talk about determining what military equipment will be allowed or prohibited,” Grossi underlined. “You can imagine they’re looking at it from a war perspective.”
While the G7 recently denounced Russia’s “unacceptable nuclear rhetoric”, the head of the IAEA expressed his “concern” about the use of nuclear weapons, but also his hope that the international organization will be able to reduce the risks.
Specifically, after statements by Moscow that accused Kyiv of preparing a dirty bomb, the IAEA sent inspectors to three sites and found “no sign of undeclared nuclear activity.”
“These allegations were made with a speech that included the idea that perhaps nuclear weapons could be used in retaliation after the possible use of the dirty bomb,” but “we shot down those allegations, calmed the situation down,” Grossi assured, noting that this ” it won’t necessarily work every time.”
But “we must not forget that this is a war, so concerns (including the use of nuclear weapons) will remain until peace.”
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