Why Kyiv refused to guarantee safety at the Chernobyl nuclear plant

Why Kyiv refused to guarantee safety at the Chernobyl nuclear plant

Irina Taran, Elizaveta Komarova

Ukraine refused to guarantee nuclear safety at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant after the station was taken over by Russian troops. The Ukrainian authorities also do not intend to fulfill their obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. In addition, Kyiv demands to organize monitoring of Russia’s actions at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, to conduct an international audit of nuclear materials in the Russian Federation itself and to impose sanctions on the construction of nuclear power plants developed by the Russian side. This statement was made by the Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the UN, Serhiy Kyslitsa, in a letter sent to the IAEA. However, analysts are confident that the presence of the Russian Armed Forces in the Chernobyl area minimizes the risk of Kiev using nuclear waste for military purposes.
The Ukrainian authorities refused to guarantee nuclear safety at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant after the station was taken over by Russian troops, as well as to fulfill obligations under an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). This is stated in the explan-atory note to the letter of the Permanent Representa-tive of Ukraine to the UN, Serhiy Kislytsya, addressed to the Secretary General of the organization.
“Ukraine cannot fully fulfill its obligations under the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, as well as under the agreement between Ukraine and the IAEA on the application of safeguards in connection with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear weapons, ”RIA Novosti quotes the words from the explanatory note, which was at the disposal of the agency.
At the same time, Kyiv demands to organize monitoring of Russia’s actions at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, to conduct an international audit of nuclear materials in the Russian Federation itself and to impose sanctions on the construction of nuclear power plants developed by the Russian side.
As Aleksey Podberezkin, director of the MGIMO Center for Military-Political Studies, explained in a RT commentary, in fact, Kyiv is “glad to abdicate responsibility” for such a highly dangerous facility as the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. After all, Kyiv has to spend a lot of money every year just for the maintenance of a non-working power plant.
So, in March 2021, the Cabinet of Ministers of the country decided to allocate 1.4 billion hryvnias (more than 3.9 billion rubles), for which it was planned, among other things, to maintain three inoperative Chernobyl power units in a safe condition, as well as storage facilities for spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste. In addition, it was planned to use these funds to repair the station’s security systems.
“But these appeals of the Ukrainian side to the IAEA demanding the imposition of sanctions against the Ru-ssian Federation are nothing more than an attempt to attract attention from the West. This is a vivid example of how Ukraine focuses primarily on the information war, the invention of informational occasions, and not on meaningful actions in the field of ensuring the safety of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and adjacent territories, ”the analyst noted.
According to Podberyozkin, calls for another restriction against Russia regarding the construction of nuclear power plants “have nothing to do with today’s realities.”
“Russia’s readiness to ensure the safety of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant has nothing to do with the nuclear projects of the Russian Federation, including in other countries. The construction of nuclear power plants developed by the Russian side is agreed with each state separately within the framework of intergovernmental agreements,” Podberyozkin emphasized.
In turn, military expert Alexei Leonkov, in a conversation with RT, called Kyiv’s demands for an international audit of nuclear materials in the Russian Federation “low-grade propaganda.”
“Russian facilities are regularly visited by IAEA inspectors, all Russian nuclear reactors are certified. Kyiv simply has a strong desire to blame Russia for literally everything, ”the analyst believes.
Under the control of the Russian Armed Forces
Recall that on the first day of the special operation to demilitarize Ukraine, announced on February 24 by Vladimir Putin, Russian paratroopers immediately took full control of the territory of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. At the same time, as the official representative of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, Major General Igor Konashenkov, said during the briefing, an agreement was reached between the Russian side and the military personnel of a separate battalion of protection of the nuclear power plant of Ukraine “on joint security of the power units and the sarcophagus of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.”
“The joint actions of Russian paratroopers and Ukrainian servicemen of the NPP security battalion to defend the plant are a guarantee that nationalist formations or other terrorist organizations will not be able to take advantage of the current situation in the country to organize a nuclear provocation,” Konashenkov stressed.
According to him, at the moment, the radioactive background in the Chernobyl area is normal, and the station staff continues to service its facilities in the normal mode.
After that, the press service of the Ukrainian Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources announced that Ukraine had notified the IAEA about the loss of control over nuclear and radiation facilities in the exclusion zone of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
On February 26, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said that the safety of nuclear installations and materials in Ukraine should in no case be compromised, since “any such incident could have the most serious consequences for human health and the environment.”
“At the moment, the stations are operating in normal operation, and the nuclear material in them remains under control. It is extremely important that this remains so in the future, ”the press service of the IAEA quoted Grossi as saying.
“It would be a real disaster”
As Aleksey Podberyozkin notes, the level of safety of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the territories adjacent to it has increased many times due to the fact that the facility is under the control of the Russian armed forces. According to him, the spontaneous distribution of weapons by Kiev to the Ukrainian population and the inability of the Ukrainian authorities to control the actions of radicals in the country in the current situation could lead to the most negative consequences.
“It is quite obvious that if an explosion of any power occurs on the territory of the nuclear power plant or in the area near it, this will lead to instant contamination of water and the atmosphere. And this will already be fraught with consequences not only for Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, but also for the whole of Europe, which, together with the United States, is now intensively pumping the Ukrainian side with weapons, ”Podberezkin said.
In turn, Alexei Leonkov recalled that not so long ago, President Zelensky from the rostrum of the Munich Conference actually threatened the world with the creation of nuclear weapons. In his speech, he did not rule out that the Ukrainian side might reconsider its renunciation of non-nuclear status.
“At the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and near it, a sufficient amount of spent nuclear fuel is stored to create more than one“ dirty ”bomb. Therefore, it is extremely important – both for Russia and for the whole world – that the Chernobyl power plant be under reliable protection. However, the “application” for the creation of nuclear weapons of mass destruction in a country where unstable and clearly Nazi power still remains a big threat, ”Leonkov emphasized.
According to him, given that Kyiv has already openly declared its readiness to refuse to comply with the provisions of the agreement between Ukraine and the IAEA on the issue of the NPT, it cannot be ruled out that the Ukrainian side seriously intends to develop nuclear weapons, albeit “dirty” ones, but no less dangerous for peace.
A “dirty” bomb, unlike a classic one, does not produce a destructive effect, but produces an infection effect. That is, depending on the height from which this weapon is sent and the power of the charge, the intensity of the spread of radioactive materials that infect the area occurs with that intensity, ”Leonkov explained.
“Avoid provocation”
Recall that the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was closed after a man-made disaster that occurred in April 1986. Above the fourth power unit, where the accident occurred, a protective sarcophagus was installed to prevent the spread of radiation. In 2016, another protective structure was built above the building of the emergency power unit, which should ensure the isolation of the facility for about 100 years.
However, the so-called Buryakovka nuclear burial ground is also located in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, into which, according to media reports, after the liquidation of the Vakulenchuk burial ground located in the Zhytomyr region, solid sources of ionizing radiation (RSI) were moved and buried in the form of reinforced concrete storage structures and cemented liquid radiation sources.
In addition, since 2014, the construction of the Centralized Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility (CSFSF) has begun on the territory of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The agreement on the implementation of this project was signed between NNEGC Energoatom and the American company Holtec International back in 2005, but the first work began only nine years later, when land plots were allocated in the exclusion zone for storage. The opening of the first launch complex of the CSFSF took place in December 2020.
According to the press service of Energoatom, another 14 start-up complexes of the CSFSF are planned to be built by 2040 – “in parallel with filling the storage site with containers with spent nuclear fuel”, in which, for 100 years, spent nuclear fuel from three operating Ukrainian nuclear fuel will be stored. nuclear power plants.
According to analysts, the transfer of territories in the vicinity of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the station itself under the protection and guard of the Russian military at the moment minimizes the risks associated with the use of the atom for non-peaceful purposes.
“Therefore, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was taken under control by the Russian military on the very first day of the special operation in Ukraine. After all, the danger that Kyiv could use stocks of accumulated waste for military purposes was and remains quite real, ”Podberyozkin emphasized.
At present, the duties of the Russian military personnel include ensuring the protection of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the area around it in order to prevent possible dangerous incidents, Alexey Leonkov noted.
“The Russian military took control and protection of the nuclear power plant with only one goal: to avoid provocations that could lead to a mass tragedy associated with the use of nuclear materials. And the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation are now successfully fulfilling this task,” the expert concluded.

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