"Having such explosives on the site is inconsistent with the IAEA safety standards and nuclear security guidance..."
As basic common sense would have it: no, it's not a good idea to store bombs in or around a nuclear power plant. And yet, according to a newly-lodged International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) complaint, that's exactly what Russia has been doing.
Per Reuters' reporting, the UN nuclear watchdog said on Monday that, for the second month running, it had found anti-personnel mines inside Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant during a safety check. This latest warning comes just weeks after Ukraine accused Russia of planting bombs on the facility's roof.
The station — Europe's largest nuclear plant — has been controlled by Russian forces for well over a year now, with IAEA officials last month discovering explosives in the plant and around its perimeter. Now, per the IAEA, Russia is chalking the continued choice to keep bombs onsite at the plant up to a "military decision." Rest assured, the IAEA is none too pleased about it.
"As I have reported earlier, the IAEA has been aware of the previous placement of mines outside the site perimeter and also at particular places inside," IAEA director general Rafael Grossi said in a Monday statement. "Our team has raised this specific finding with the plant and they have been told that it is a military decision, and in an area controlled by military."
To be clear, the IAEA complaint did note that if the mines were to detonate, they most likely wouldn't harm the site's security systems. Still, Grossi said, even if the bombs never cause any physical damage, the psychological stress that the presence of the explosives places on employees of the plant — who, operating an occupied nuclear power plant during an ongoing invasion, are dealing with enough as it is — is a violation of safety guidelines in its own right.
"Having such explosives on the site," Grossi added in his statement, "is inconsistent with the IAEA safety standards and nuclear security guidance and creates additional psychological pressure on plant staff — even if the IAEA's initial assessment based on its own observations and the plant's clarifications is that any detonation of these mines should not affect the site's nuclear safety and security systems."
Regardless, though all the UN watchdog can really do at this point is issue complaints, Grossi says that the IAEA will continue to monitor the facility.
"The team," he continued, "will continue its interactions with the plant."
More on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant: Ukraine Accuses Russia of Planting Explosives on Roof of Nuclear Power Plant
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