Ukraine’s nuclear energy operator said Tuesday that Russian forces were performing secret work at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, activity that might make clear Russia’s claims that Kyiv’s forces are preparing a “provocation” involving a radioactive device.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made an unsubstantiated allegation that Ukraine was preparing to launch a so-called dirty bomb. Shoigu made the charge in calls to his British, French, Turkish and U.S. counterparts over the weekend. Britain, France, and the USA rejected it out of hand as “transparently false.”
Ukraine also dismissed Moscow’s claim as an try and distract attention from the Kremlin’s own alleged plans to detonate a grimy bomb, which uses explosives to scatter radioactive waste in an effort to sow terror.
Energoatom, the Ukrainian state enterprise that operates the country’s 4 nuclear power plants, said Russian forces have carried out secret construction work over the past week on the occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine.
Russian officers controlling the realm won’t give access to Ukrainian staff running the plant or monitors from the U.N.’s atomic energy watchdog that will allow them to see what they’re doing, Energoatom said in a press release issued Tuesday.
Energoatom said it “assumes … (the Russians) are preparing a terrorist act using nuclear materials and radioactive waste stored at (the plant).” It said there have been 174 containers on the plant’s dry spent fuel storage facility, each of them containing 24 assemblies of spent nuclear fuel.
“Destruction of those containers consequently of explosion will result in a radiation accident and radiation contamination of several hundred square kilometers (miles) of the adjoining territory,” the corporate said.
It called on the International Atomic Energy Agency to evaluate what was occurring.
The Kremlin has insisted that its warning of a purported Ukrainian plan to make use of a grimy bomb radioactive device ought to be taken seriously and criticized the Western nations for shrugging it off.
The dismissal of Moscow’s warning is “unacceptable in view of the seriousness of the danger that we have now talked about,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday.
Speaking during a conference call with reporters, Peskov added: “We again emphasize the grave danger posed by the plans hatched by the Ukrainians.”
The White House on Monday again underscored that the Russian allegations were false.
“It’s just not true. We understand it’s not true,” John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said. “Up to now, the Russians have, every now and then, blamed others for things that they were planning on doing.”
Dirty bombs don’t have the devastating destruction of a nuclear explosion but could expose broad areas to radioactive contamination.