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Misleading posts recirculate old report about UN nuclear agency chief’s visit to Pakistan

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on March 21, 2024

An old news report about the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visiting Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation of 240 million people, has resurfaced in misleading online posts. The video of IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi — which featured a “breaking news” banner — was originally broadcast by a local news outlet in 2023. In response to the posts, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said he did not visit the South Asian country in March 2024.

“Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi of the IAEA visited Pakistan, discussing nuclear cooperation and climate change mitigation,” read a caption alongside this video on Facebook published on March 15, 2024.

Featuring a logo for local news outlet GNN, the “breaking news” report shows the head of the UN nuclear agency shaking hands with former foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.

The post continued: “Meetings with top officials focused on enhancing collaboration in peaceful nuclear technology. Grossi inaugurated various nuclear facilities and designated Pakistan as an IAEA Regional Center for cancer treatment.

“Highlighting nuclear energy’s role in combating climate change, his visit concluded with a dinner hosted by the Foreign Secretary.”

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Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on March 21, 2024

The video was also shared elsewhere on Facebook here, here and here

A similar misleading claim was shared on social media platform X here and here.

In response to the misleading posts, Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry rebuffed suggestions Grossi visited the country in March this year.

“Any stories regarding the visit of a high-level IAEA delegation to Pakistan are fake news,” the ministry said in a statement on March 15, 2024 (archived link).

“No official from IAEA is currently visiting Pakistan, nor are any policy talks planned in the near future with IAEA. Director General IAEA visited Pakistan in February 2023.”

Old news clip

A keyword search on YouTube found the video shared in the posts was originally published here on GNN’s official channel on February 15, 2023 (archived link).

Its caption said: “FM Bilawal Bhutto Meets DG (IAEA) Rafael Mariano Grossi | Breaking News | GNN”.

When Grossi visited Pakistan, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was head of the South Asian country’s foreign ministry.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in one of the misleading posts (left) and the video published by GNN in 2023 (right):

<span>A screenshots comparison of the misleading post (left) and the original video on YouTube (right): </span><span><button class=

A screenshots comparison of the misleading post (left) and the original video on YouTube (right):

According to the IAEA, Grossi discussed with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif how nuclear science could help mitigate the worsening effects of climate change in Pakistan. He also visited nuclear facilities across the country, the agency said in a press release on February 16, 2023 (archived link).

Grossi was in Japan the week of March 2024 when the misleading posts circulated, meeting with various leaders about the discharge of treated water from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, according to this IAEA report (archived link).

Shortly after the misleading posts circulated online, Pakistan’s foreign minister Ishaq Dar — who has held the position since March 11, 2024 — met with Grossi on the sidelines of the Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported (archived links here and here).

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