The U.N. nuclear watchdog will send inspectors into Ukraine at Kyiv’s request after Russian claims it was planning on using a “dirty bomb”.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it was “aware of statements made by the Russian Federation on Sunday about alleged activities at two nuclear locations in Ukraine”.
It added that both sites were already subject to its inspections and one was “inspected a month ago” and that “The IAEA is preparing to visit the locations in the coming days.”
Russian diplomats have said they they will take their claims to the UN Security Council but the White House has already said it rejects the “false allegation”.
He claimed that Ukraine was planning to use a dirty bomb - a conventional explosive laced with radioactive materials - which might then be blamed on Moscow. Russia has provided no evidence to support the allegations.
Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba dismissed the claims as “Russian lies” which are “as absurd as they are dangerous”.
He added: “Firstly, we neither have any “dirty bombs“ nor plan to acquire any. Secondly, Russians often accuse others of what they plan themselves.”
President Zelensky also denied the allegations, posting on social media: “If Russia calls and says that Ukraine is allegedly preparing something, it means one thing - Russia has already prepared all this. I believe that now the world should react as harshly as possible.”
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace also rejected the charges and warned Moscow not to try to use it as a “pretext” for its own efforts to step up the conflict.
A statement on Defence Secretary Ben Wallace's call with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu: pic.twitter.com/BbQ9muxKeC— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) October 23, 2022
In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said: “Minister Shoigu alleged that Ukraine was planning actions facilitated by Western countries, including the UK, to escalate the conflict in Ukraine.
“The Defence Secretary refuted these claims and cautioned that such allegations should not be used as a pretext for greater escalation.”
The Russian authorities have repeatedly made allegations that Ukraine could detonate a dirty bomb in a “false flag” attack and blame it on Moscow.
The Ukrainian authorities, in turn, have accused the Kremlin of planning such an attack.
Ukraine’s presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak dismissed Mr Shoigu’s claims as an “absolute and quite predictable absurdity from those who believe that they blatantly lie and make people believe in that”.
In a joint statement, the foreign ministers of France, the UK and the US said their governments “all reject Russia’s transparently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory”.
They also reiterated that they would keep supporting Ukraine in “the face of President Putin’s brutal war of aggression”.