IAEA Initiates Investigations on ‘Dirty Bomb’ Claims in Ukraine

The UN’s nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently initiated investigations on Russia’s allegations accusing Ukraine of producing dirty bombs.

What are dirty bombs?

Dirty bomb is a conventional explosive device laced with toxic materials. Unlike a nuclear weapon, it does not cause atomic explosion. Rather, it spreads radioactive, biological or chemical wastes after explosion. This weapone will not cause an immediate health impact since people in the affected region can escape from being exposed lethal dose of radiation. However, economic impact could be severe due to the high costs incurred during the evacuation process. Sometimes, the whole city or an urban region would be abandoned if it is hit by a dirty bomb.

What are Russia’s allegations?

The Russian government accused Ukraine of planning to use dirty bomb in the Ukrainian military theatre and shifting the blame on Russia to trigger powerful anti-Russian sentiments across the world.

Ukraine and its allies refuted these allegations, stating that Ukraine would not intentionally make some of its own territories uninhabitable while its forces were successfully recapturing territories on the battlefield.

IAEA’s independent investigation

  • The nuclear watchdog commenced inspections in Ukraine as part of the “independent verification” of Russia’s claims. It is set to complete verification activities in two locations in Ukraine.
  • After the inspection, the Ukrainian government will send a written letter requesting IAEA to send its team to the country to conduct the investigations.
  • Previously, the agency inspected one of the two locations a month ago and found no evidence backing the presence of undeclared nuclear activities or materials.

Other roles of IAEA in Ukrainian war

The IAEA is currently in contact with the governments of Russia and Ukraine to set up security zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant – the largest atomic facility in Europe. Russia captured the nuclear power plant in March 2022 during the early days of the conflict. The IAEA is now urging the Russian government to release a Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant employee, who has been detained for the past two weeks. Ukraine alleged that the Russian forces are detaining around 50 employees of the nuclear facility.

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