UN nuclear watchdog sounds alarm over Ukraine's Zaporozhye plant

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UN nuclear watchdog sounds alarm over Ukraine's Zaporozhye plant

The IAEA director said the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant contains tons of enriched uranium and plutonium.

The UN s nuclear watchdog is worried that fissile materials could potentially be used to make a nuclear weapon in Ukraine. The nightmare scenario was shared on Wednesday by Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA, at a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Grossi sounded the alarm over the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant in the south of the country, which was captured in February by Russian troops but operated by Ukrainian nuclear specialists. He said that the IAEA is concerned about the challenges it faces in monitoring Europe's largest civilian nuclear site due to the ongoing conflict.

Six nuclear reactors, 30,000 kilograms of plutonium, 40,000 kilograms of enriched uranium were among the six reactors. He said my inspectors don't have access to that, describing the situation, which he called unprecedented and unsustainable. He stated that when inspectors are able to take inventory of the stock, the biggest concern is that there are a few hundred kilograms of nuclear weapon-grade material missing. This keeps us awake at night. Commercial nuclear power plants generate plutonium from uranium isotopes as part of normal operation. The fuel rods in the reactor core and spent fuel rods contain some of the fissile material. According to various estimates, a ton of spent fuel could contain up to 10 kg of plutonium. It can be extracted at a reprocessing plant and used in a nuclear device by a party with the necessary technology.

Ukraine's nuclear energy operator rushed to explain that the IAEA chief did not reveal a previously undeclared stockpile of ready-to- be-weaponized materials in Kiev's possession after media coverage of Grossi's words.

Energoatom accused Wall Street Journal correspondent Laurence Norman of making false statements about the issue, without clarifying what they were. The agency wanted to make sure no stocks had gone missing, according to the journalist who reported that the amount of nuclear fuel disclosed by Grossi was striking and that the agency wanted to make sure no stocks had gone missing. Moscow listed to justify its attack against Ukraine after statements made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the Munich Security Council in mid-February, when he lamented Ukraine s consent to relinquish the nuclear weapons that the USSR had maintained on its territory, and indicated that his country may try to become a nuclear power. Russia said it could not afford the luxury of dismissing his speech as mere rhetoric, considering Kiev's hostility and nuclear expertise.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, after Ukraine s failed to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has demanded that Ukraine declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was unprovoked and has denied that it was planning to retake the two republics by force.