UN nuclear experts to probe Russia’s ‘dirty bomb’ allegations.

A team of nuclear safety and security experts will investigate Russia’s baseless claims that Ukraine is building a “dirty bomb”, the head of the UN nuclear watchdog has said.

Experts will carry out “verification activities” at two facilities in Ukraine where Russia says the bombs are being prepared, he added. A dirty bomb combines conventional explosives, such as dynamite, with radioactive materials.

“Charges have been filed, inspections are pending,” Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Thursday.

His comments came in response to Russia’s UN envoy, Vasily Nebenzia, who said after a UN Security Council meeting: “We would be happy to be wrong, but we cannot simply ignore these allegations, which are very serious and could lead to very adverse consequences.”

Ukraine categorically disputes the accusations. Earlier this week, the foreign ministers of France, the United Kingdom and the United States said in a statement that they rejected Russia’s “blatantly false accusations.” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also called Russia’s accusations “absurd.”

IAEA investigators will look for evidence of attempts to make a bomb, as well as “direct nuclear material, [like] enriched uranium, plutonium, thorium” and for “some isotopes, cesium and strontium” that could be processed as bomb material, Grossi said at a news conference late Thursday. He added that he expects the team to present its findings “in a few days.”

The agency will also send more experts to Ukraine “over the next few weeks” to assess the situation at several nuclear facilities, including the decommissioned Chernobyl plant and the nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine.

Discussions with Ukraine and Russia to create a safety and security protection zone around the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant, currently under Russian occupation, are “taking too much time,” Grossi said, but added that the agency was “noting progress.”

“Everyone agrees there should be a buffer zone,” he said.

Earlier this week, a senior Russian diplomat said Russia supported the buffer zone idea, Russian state news agency TASS reported.

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