UN nuclear inspection finds no evidence for Russia's "dirty bomb" claim
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors did not find any indications of undeclared nuclear activities and materials at three nuclear facilities locations in Ukraine, the United Nations agency said Thursday.
Why it matters: The inspections, which were initiated at the request of the Ukrainian government, appeared to refute recent unsubstantiated Russian claims that Ukraine intends to produce and detonate a "dirty bomb" on its own soil.
- "Dirty bombs" are explosive devices that include both conventional explosives and nuclear material. They can produce widespread radioactive contamination but aren't considered the same as traditional nuclear weapons.
- Ukraine does not have a nuclear weapons program, but it is heavily dependent on nuclear energy.
Zoom in: Russia specifically made claims about undeclared nuclear activity at the Institute for Nuclear Research in Kyiv, the Eastern Mining and Processing Plant in Zhovti Kody and the Production Association Pivdennyi Machine-Building Plant in Dnipro.
- The IAEA said its inspectors did not find any indications of undeclared nuclear activities and materials at the locations.
- The inspectors also collected environmental samples at the locations that would provide additional information about current and past activities at the sites related to the handling of nuclear materials.
- IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said the agency would release the results of the environmental samples "as soon as possible."
What they're saying: "Upon the request of the Government of Ukraine, I immediately dispatched inspectors to the three locations to carry out their indispensable technical and independent role in verifying the facts on the ground. Within days, they went there and conducted their safeguards activities, in challenging circumstances during the current conflict in Ukraine," Grossi said.
- “Our technical and scientific evaluation of the results we have so far did not show any sign of undeclared nuclear activities and materials at these three locations,” he said.
The big picture: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu raised the "dirty bomb" claim in calls with the defense ministers of the U.S., France, U.K. and Turkey last month.
- Kyiv and Washington both rejected the claims, with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba telling Axios that Shoigu should "drink less dirty vodka."
- Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly made veiled threats of using nuclear weapons in Ukraine since the start of Russia's invasion, though last week he said "it doesn't make sense for us to do it," referring to a nuclear strike.
Go deeper: Russia warns U.S. satellites could be targets for "retaliation"