IAEA says no sign of 'dirty bomb' work at sites inspected in Ukraine

The UN nuclear watchdog said on Thursday it had found no sign of undeclared nuclear activity at three sites in Ukraine that it inspected at Kyiv's request.

 Visitors look at a Soviet-era SS-18 SATAN intercontinental ballistic missile at the Strategic Missile Forces museum near Pervomaysk, some 300 km (186 miles) south of Kyiv, August 22, 2011 (photo credit: REUTERS/GLEB GARANICH)
Visitors look at a Soviet-era SS-18 SATAN intercontinental ballistic missile at the Strategic Missile Forces museum near Pervomaysk, some 300 km (186 miles) south of Kyiv, August 22, 2011
(photo credit: REUTERS/GLEB GARANICH)

The UN nuclear watchdog said on Thursday it had found no sign of undeclared nuclear activity at three sites in Ukraine that it inspected at Kyiv's request in response to Russian allegations that work was being done on a "dirty bomb."

Moscow has repeatedly accused Ukraine of planning to use such a bomb - a conventional explosive device laced with radioactive material - and said institutes linked to the nuclear industry were involved in preparations, without presenting evidence. Ukraine's government denies the accusation.

Some Ukrainian and Western officials have accused Moscow of making the allegation to give itself cover to detonate its own dirty bomb and pin the blame on Kyiv.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said last month it would inspect two locations in Ukraine following a request by Kyiv. On Monday it said those inspections had begun and on Thursday it said they had been completed at three locations rather than two, all of which had been mentioned by Russia.

What did the IAEA investigation find?

"Over the past few days, the inspectors were able to carry out all activities that the IAEA had planned to conduct and were given unfettered access to the locations," the Vienna-based IAEA said in a statement.

 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi attends a news conference in Vienna, Austria, March 7, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/LEONHARD FOEGER) International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi attends a news conference in Vienna, Austria, March 7, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/LEONHARD FOEGER)

"Based on the evaluation of the results available to date and the information provided by Ukraine, the agency did not find any indications of undeclared nuclear activities and materials at the locations."

The IAEA named the locations as the Institute for Nuclear Research in Kyiv, Eastern Mining and Processing Plant in Zhovti Kody, and Production Association Pivdennyi Machine-Building Plant in Dnipro.

Inspectors also took environmental samples that will be sent off for lab analysis and the IAEA will report back on the results, the statement added.