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UN nuclear watchdog to increase presence in Ukraine

This Nov 14, 2007 picture shows a view of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna. The IAEA has praised China's efforts and progress in stepping up nuclear security and contributing to global governance of nuclear security. (JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

VIENNA / UNITED NATIONS- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Friday that it would step up its presence in Ukraine to help prevent a nuclear accident during the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said in a statement that he would travel to Ukraine next week to "establish a continuous presence of nuclear safety and security experts" at all of Ukraine's nuclear power facilities.

"This is an important step in our work to help Ukraine during these immensely difficult and challenging times," Grossi said. "Our nuclear safety and security experts will monitor the situation at the plants, assess their equipment and other needs, provide technical support and advice, and report their findings to IAEA headquarters."

The deal on the export of grain and fertilizers from Black Sea ports continues to make a difference, as indicated in the lowering of global food prices, a senior United Nations official said Friday

The UN nuclear watchdog has previously established a permanent presence of up to four experts at the embattled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (NPP), Ukraine's largest such facility, according to the statement.

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Ukraine and Russia have traded accusations of strikes on the Zaporizhzhia NPP, which has been controlled by Russian forces since last March.

Grossi also said in the statement that he would meet senior Ukrainian government officials in Kiev next week to discuss setting up a nuclear safety zone around the Zaporizhzhia NPP.

"I remain determined to make the much-needed protection zone a reality as soon as possible. My consultations with Ukraine and Russia are making progress, albeit not as fast as they should," Grossi said, adding that he remains hopeful about reaching an agreement on the issue soon. 

Black Sea grain deal keeps making a difference

The deal on the export of grain and fertilizers from Black Sea ports continues to make a difference, as indicated in the lowering of global food prices, a senior United Nations official said Friday.

With the Russia-Ukraine conflict approaching its one-year anniversary, there is "no end in sight to the fighting or the suffering," Rosemary DiCarlo, UN under-secretary-general for political and peacebuilding affairs, told a Security Council meeting on Ukraine.

"Despite the challenging context, the Black Sea Grain Initiative continues to make a difference, including by helping bring global food prices down," she said, noting that the Food and Agriculture Organization reports a continued decline of its Food Price Index.

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On July 22, 2022, Russia and Ukraine separately signed a document in Istanbul with Türkiye and the United Nations on grain and fertilizer exports from Ukraine and Russia to ensure supplies to global markets amid the Russia-Ukraine armed conflict.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative, due to expire on Nov 19, was extended for another 120 days.

More than 17 million metric tons of foodstuffs have now been moved under the deal, reaching, or on the way to, some 43 countries, DiCarlo said.

Roughly 20 percent of the total is for countries categorized by the World Bank as low-income or lower-middle-income economies, she added.

"The United Nations also continues its engagement with all stakeholders to remove remaining obstacles to Russian food and fertilizer exports, including ammonia. These exports are key to keep prices down and mitigate food insecurity, and we urge all concerned to work to that end," said DiCarlo.