Photo taken on Aug 22, 2022 shows the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. (PHOTO/XINHUA)
KYIV – International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Grossi and some members of his delegation left the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (NPP) in southern Ukraine on Thursday, the country's state-run nuclear energy operator Energoatom said.
"Currently, there are five representatives of the IAEA mission at the Zaporizhzhia NPP, who are unloading the equipment they brought, and they will continue working at the plant," Energoatom said on Telegram.
IAEA inspectors will assess physical damage to the plant, ensure its safety and security systems are functional and evaluate the conditions of the facility's staff, the IAEA says. Grossi said on Thursday they would produce a report on their findings
The IAEA inspectors are set to stay at the plant until Sept 3, Energoatom said.
Later in the day, Grossi tweeted that his team completed a "first tour of the key areas" that they wanted to see in the plant.
The IAEA mission is "establishing a continued presence" at the nuclear facility, Grossi added.
The inspectors will assess physical damage to the plant, ensure its safety and security systems are functional and evaluate the conditions of the facility's staff, the IAEA says. Grossi said on Thursday they would produce a report on their findings.
The IAEA mission arrived at the Zaporizhzhia NPP earlier on Thursday.
In a video address late on Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy reiterated his frequent calls that all troops be removed from the plant.
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"The main thing that must happen is the demilitarization of the station's territory," Zelenskiy said. "Demilitarization and full control of Ukrainian nuclear workers."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday Moscow was doing everything to ensure that the plant could operate safely, and for the IAEA inspectors to be able to complete their tasks.
This file photo dated May 1, 2022, shows a Russian soldier guarding an area of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in territory under Russian military control, southeastern Ukraine. (PHOTO / AP)
Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko said on Thursday it was being discussed that certain IAEA specialists – "up to two individuals" – will be permanently stationed at the plant.
The Zaporizhzhia plant, one of Europe's largest nuclear power plants, has been controlled by Russian forces since early March, but its Ukrainian staff has continued to operate it.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday Moscow was doing everything to ensure that the plant could operate safely, and for the IAEA inspectors to be able to complete their tasks
In recent weeks, the site of the power plant has been attacked by days of shelling, sparking international concerns about the safety of the plant.
The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross called for all fighting near the plant to stop, warning that little could be done to respond in the event of a potential nuclear leak.
"(It) will be difficult if not impossible to provide humanitarian assistance … and this is why fighting should stop," Robert Mardini told a news conference during a visit to Ukraine on Thursday.
READ MORE: IAEA mission to nuclear plant arrives in Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia
Ukraine has launched an offensive in recent days to recapture territory in southern Ukraine, mainly further down the Dnipro in neighboring Kherson province.
Both sides have claimed battlefield successes in the new Ukrainian push to recapture territory in the south, although details have been scarce so far, with Ukrainian officials releasing little information about their advance.
"It is a very slow process, because we value people," said Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. Moscow has denied reports of Ukrainian progress and said its troops had routed Ukrainian forces.
Reuters could not independently verify those claims.
With Agencies' inputs