VIENNA (Reuters) – U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi will fly on Thursday to the Turkish city of Antalya, where the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine plan to meet, he said on Wednesday, strongly suggesting he would discuss Ukrainian nuclear safety with them.
Since a building at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant caught fire after clashes nearby Grossi has been pushing for a trilateral meeting between himself and envoys from Russia and Ukraine to secure commitments to protect the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities.
Since it invaded Ukraine Russia has seized Zaporizhzhia and radioactive waste facilities near the defunct nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, site of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986. Ukrainian staff are still operating both but in conditions Grossi has said put the facilities’ safety at risk.
“I will travel tomorrow to Antalya. In meetings there I hope to make progress on the urgent issue of ensuring the safety and security of #Ukraine’s nuclear facilities. We need to act now!” Grossi said on Twitter.
The International Atomic Energy Agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the trilateral meeting Grossi has been pushing for would take place.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba have agreed to meet at a forum in the resort city of Antalya on Thursday.
Grossi pushed for a trilateral meeting on Ukrainian nuclear security immediately after the incident at Zaporizhzhia last week, which he has described as a close call but in which the six reactors at Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant were not damaged and no radioactive material was released.
Russia agreed to the three-way meeting but not at Chernobyl, and after a conversation between French President Emmanuel Macron and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy Paris said Kyiv also backed the idea.
(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)