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Ukraine has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Russian forces have turned off several mobile networks and internet at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (NPP).

The country’s nuclear regulator notified the IAEA that it cannot obtain information from the NPP via normal communication channels.

Russian forces took full control of the NPP last week.

The IAEA said that it is not able to receive emails or faxes from the power plant and that its telephone lines are also not functioning.

The regulator added that although the mobile phone service is available, its quality is ‘very poor’.

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By GlobalData

IAEA director-general Rafael Mariano Grossi said: “The deteriorating situation regarding vital communications between the regulator and the Zaporizhzhya NPP is also a source of deep concern, especially during an armed conflict that may jeopardise the country’s nuclear facilities at any time.

“Reliable communications between the regulator and the operator are a critical part of overall nuclear safety and security. I’m extremely concerned about these developments that were reported to me today.

“Just a few days after I presented the seven main elements of nuclear safety and security to the IAEA Board, several of them are already being compromised.

“In order to be able to operate the plant safely and securely, management and staff must be allowed to carry out their vital duties in stable conditions without undue external interference or pressure.”

In a separate development, Russian President Vladimir Putin has welcomed a trilateral meeting between Russia, Ukraine and the IAEA to discuss concerns over the safety of the Zaporizhzhya NPP in Ukraine.

These talks could be held via video link or in a third country.

Last week, a fire was reported at the NPP, which is located in Energodar in south-east Ukraine. No essential equipment at the plant was reported to be damaged.