UN inspectors visit the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Monday that the task would be “the most difficult in the history of the IAEA”.

Last week, there was temporary fighting in the area disconnected The plant from Ukraine’s power grid for the first time in its 40-year history with the president Volodymyr Zelenskyy The incident left the world in awe Radiation disaster.

On Friday, Ukrainian authorities began the distribution Iodine tablets Any future radiation spill would bring back painful memories for those living near the plant, in a country still haunted. 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Ukraine’s allies have urged Russia to hand over control, and the UN has warned of any attack on the plant. “Suicide.”

Kiev and Moscow have been blaming each other for weeks for the shelling of the plant. NBC News could not verify either side’s claims.

News of the IAEA mission came as Ukraine was long-awaited Counter attack Against the Russian occupation areas in the south, including the Kherson region.

“Today we launched offensive operations in different directions,” said Natalia Humenyuk, spokeswoman for the Southern Military Command. said Ukraine’s public broadcaster is Zasbylne.

Military watchers have been expecting a counteroffensive in the south for months, as Kiev appears to have targeted Russian arsenals and other military installations behind its defense lines. In nearby CrimeaAnnexed by Moscow in 2014.

Humeniuk later spoke to reporters, expressing caution and calling for patience.

“We have not announced the start of the attack or the end of the attack,” he said in a clarifying comment over the phone. “But under the pressure of our operations the enemy started retreating. It is now recorded that the enemy has retreated from some of his positions,” he said.

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NBC News has not verified the request.

The Zaporizhzhia plant has been under Russian control since Kremlin forces seized land in the south in March, but Ukrainian engineers continue to operate it.

Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear power company, Energoatom, said Earlier on Monday, Russia put “increased pressure” on the station’s personnel ahead of the arrival of an IAEA mission to “prevent the release of evidence of the occupiers’ crimes at the plant and its use as a military base.” It did not provide any evidence for the claim.

within it Latest update On Sunday, the IAEA said that despite reports of renewed shelling in recent days, all safety systems were operational and there had been no increase in radiation levels.

United Nations Russia has blamed it The failure to acknowledge the “serious radiological risk” at the plant and the main UN resolution on the issue. Blocking the final draft of the review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

News of the mission to Zaporizhia was welcomed by the Group of Seven nations, which includes the United States, and in a statement released Monday, it said IAEA staff would have “timely, safe and unhindered” access to all nuclear facilities in Ukraine.

Anastasia Parafeniuk Contributed.

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