The UN's nuclear watchdog, IAEA, responded to a Ukrainian government invitation to inspect two sites at the centre of Russian claims that the country could be preparing to use a weapon laced with radioactive material. In response, Ukraine has warned that it believed Russia could be planning an attack of this kind of its own as a “false flag”.
Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said that experts, led by director general Rafael Grossi, were expected to arrive "shortly” at the plant.
Mr Kuleba said: “I appreciate Rafael Grossi’s prompt response to our invitation. IAEA experts are expected to arrive shortly and prove Ukraine has neither any dirty bombs nor plans to develop them. Good cooperation with IAEA and partners allows us to foil Russia’s ‘dirty bomb’ disinformation campaign.”
Mr Grossi said the IAEA had inspected one of these locations one month ago and “All our findings were consistent with Ukraine's safeguards declarations."
"No undeclared nuclear activities or material were found there," he said, adding that the organisation had regularly visited both sites.
Moscow is expected to repeat the allegation during a meeting of the UN's Security Council.
In a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the Russian representative to the council, Vassily Nebenzia, said his country would "regard the use of the dirty bomb by the Kyiv regime as an act of nuclear terrorism".
"Our Ministry of Defence has also received information that this provocation can be carried out with the support of Western countries," Mr Nebenzia wrote in his letter.
The two sites have been identified by Russian state media as the Eastern Mineral Enrichment Plant in central Dnipropetrovsk region and the Institute for Nuclear Research in Kyiv.
The joint statement issued by the foreign ministers of the UK, USA and France, came after UK defence secretary Ben Wallace spoke to his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu at the weekend, and UK defence chief, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, spoke with his Russian counterpart on Monday at the request of the Russian Ministry of Defence, to reject allegations that Ukraine is planning actions to escalate the conflict.
It said: “We, the Foreign Ministers of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States, reiterate our steadfast support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression. We remain committed to continue supporting Ukraine’s efforts to defend its territory for as long as it takes.
“Earlier today, the defence ministers of each of our countries spoke to Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu at his request. Our countries made clear that we all reject Russia’s transparently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory. The world would see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation. We further reject any pretext for escalation by Russia.”