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UN agency inspects Ukraine sites over Russian claims of 'dirty bomb' plans

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi leaves after a press briefing at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, the US, on October 26, 2022. (Photo by AFP)

The United Nations' nuclear watchdog says its experts have started inspections at two sites in Ukraine to investigate Russian claims that Kiev plans to set off radioactive "dirty bombs" in the country.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi said the inspections had "begun – and would soon complete verification activities at two locations in Ukraine."

Grossi said he would later this week provide "his initial conclusions about the latest verification activities."

The inspections follow a written request from Kiev to send IAEA teams for inspections at the sites.

That came after top Russian officials, including President Vladimir Putin, said that Moscow was "aware of Ukraine's plans to use a dirty bomb."

Dirty bombs are explosives laced with radioactive, biological, or chemical materials, which spread in an explosion.

In a letter to UN Security Council members, Russia's UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, said last week that Ukraine's nuclear research facility and mining company had "received direct orders from (President Volodymyr) Zelenskyy's regime to develop such a dirty bomb."

On Thursday, Putin called for the IAEA to inspect Ukraine's nuclear sites "as fast as possible."

Ukraine and its Western allies rejected Russia's claims, accusing Moscow of trying to distract attention from its own alleged plans to detonate a dirty bomb. The United States also dismissed Russia's allegations as a "false claim."

Russia invaded Ukraine in February. It has since annexed four Ukrainian regions.

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