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Blasts near Ukraine nuclear plant, says UN watchdog

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The UN nuclear watchdog reported Thursday (26 January) that there were powerful explosions close to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine. This prompted renewed calls for a zone of security around the facility.

Russian officials dismissed comments made by Rafael Grossi (head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA), claiming that they suggested Moscow couldn't uphold nuclear safety.

The plant was seized by Russian forces in March, shortly after the invasion of neighbouring Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of firing near the frontlines. This prompted the IAEA's placement of experts at all five Ukrainian nuclear stations.

Grossi, who was in Ukraine last week, stated that IAEA monitors regularly report explosions close to the plant.

He stated that eight powerful explosions were heard yesterday at 10:10 a.m. local, which caused office windows to vibrate at the plant, and many more today."

Renat Karchaa is an advisor to Rosenergoatom's head, which operates Russia's nuclear power plants.

"I can only call this a provocation. Tass quoted him saying that before you give such information, you should verify it and make sure it's not rumour."

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They want to prove that they are doing useful things. They are also proving to the West that Russia is incapable of maintaining nuclear safety.

Karchaa's humorous tone was unusual. Russian officials sought to assure Western countries that they were upholding safety standards and continuing to work with IAEA.

Grossi stated in his statement that he had spoken to the European Union about the proposed zone this week, and would be having new talks with Moscow.

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