Zaporizhzhia blame game goes on as U.N. investigates

STORY: Ukraine and Russia blamed each other for fighting around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Friday (September 2) as a team of inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog tried to check the safety of the facility and avert a potential disaster.

Ukraine's state nuclear company said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission had not been allowed to enter the plant's crisis center.

Ukraine says Russian troops are stationed there and the IAEA would struggle to make an impartial assessment.

But, in a video posted on social media, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said inspectors would remain on site.

"We are finishing our long-awaited visit to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, I have just completed a first tour of a key areas that we wanted to see in this first approach to the whole facility. Of course there is a lot more to do, my team is staying on and more importantly, most importantly we are establishing a continued presence from the IAEA here."

Grossi also said the physical integrity of the plant had been violated several times.

Despite difficulties surrounding the visit, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the mission wouldn't be in vain.

He demanded further action and urged the IAEA to call for the facility's immediate demilitarization.

In Moscow, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu accused Ukraine of "nuclear terrorism".

"By inflicting strikes on the facilities of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Kyiv creates a real threat of a nuclear catastrophe in Europe. According to international law, this is nothing but nuclear terrorism... I responsibly state that we do not have heavy weapons on the territory of the nuclear power plant and in the surrounding areas. I hope that the IAEA commission will be able to see that themselves."

The plant was captured by Russian forces soon after they invaded Ukraine in February, in what Moscow called a "special military operation".

It is still run by Ukrainian staff and Russia has rejected calls for it to withdraw its troops.

It has come under repeated shelling over the past month, with both sides blaming each other for the firing.