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Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has alleged that Russia is planning to carry out some sort of terrorist attack on the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which is now under the control of Russian forces.
This is the latest in a series of claims by Ukrainian authorities regarding risks to Ukraine’s nuclear infrastructure due to the Russian invasion, none of which have materialized.
The Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate said on its Facebook page on Friday that “Available intelligence indicates that Putin has ordered his troops to prepare a terrorist attack in Chernobyl for which the Russian invaders will try to blame Ukraine.”
The management also reiterated that the plant “remains completely disconnected from the monitoring systems managed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)”.
The IAEA said last week it was unable to restore communication with systems installed to monitor nuclear materials and activities at the Chernobyl or Zaporizhzhia power plants following the loss of data transmissions. away from these systems.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said on Thursday that the situation at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, occupied by Russian forces, was deteriorating as the IAEA lost “a significant amount of information” about safeguarding monitoring systems.
However, he said he was “rather encouraged […] on one important thing is that Ukraine and the Russian Federation want to work with us, they agree to work with us.
Grossi met on Thursday with the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine.
Ukraine’s nuclear regulatory authority alleged that personnel at the Chernobyl site “have limited opportunities to communicate, move around and perform full-fledged maintenance and repair work.”
The IAEA said Thursday it was unable to confirm power had been restored to the plant.
Ukraine’s nuclear energy regulator repeated on Friday that electricity supply to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant had not been restored, despite claims from Russia and Belarus it was restored on Thursday.
“All objects of the Chernobyl power plant located in the exclusion zone continue to be under the control of the aggressor’s army. There is still no power supply to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant since 11:22 a.m. on March 9, 2022, or no communication with on-site staff,” according to a statement posted Friday on the regulator’s website.
“Regulatory control of the state of nuclear and radiation safety at the site of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and in the territory of the exclusion zone, as well as control of nuclear materials at the enterprise, is impossible”, did he declare.
But he noted that a reserve of diesel fuel had been provided “to ensure the emergency power supply for the storage facilities for spent nuclear fuel”.
The IAEA said earlier this week there had been “no critical impact” on Chernobyl’s safety, despite the blackout. He tweeted that “the thermal load of the spent fuel storage pool and the cooling water volume of the #Chernobyl nuclear power plant are sufficient for efficient heat removal without the need for power supply”.
The site has backup emergency diesel generators available in the event of a total power failure.
But Grossi said earlier this week: “I remain gravely concerned about the deteriorating situation in Ukraine, in particular the country’s nuclear power plants, which must be able to continue operating without any threat to safety or security.”
And he stressed “the utmost importance that personnel working at the Chernobyl Specialized Nuclear Power Plant can do their jobs safely and efficiently, and that their personal well-being is guaranteed by those who have taken control”.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry also claimed on Friday that Russian forces denied a Ukrainian repair team access to Chernobyl. He claimed without providing evidence that “Belarusian specialists” had traveled there posing as nuclear energy experts and that Russian saboteurs were arriving to stage a terrorist attack.
The ministry claimed that “without receiving the desired result from the ground military operation and direct talks, Putin is ready to resort to nuclear blackmail from the international community.”
Russia and Ukraine have repeatedly asserted without substantiation that the other side planned to cause an incident involving nuclear, chemical or biological agents.