(CNSNews.com) – Doubling down on allegations that Kyiv plans to detonate a “dirty bomb” and blame it on Russia, Moscow has requested a U.N. Security Council meeting on Tuesday.
And in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Russia warned it would view the use of such a weapon as “an act of nuclear terrorism.”
Taking the accusations further, one senior Russian military official broadened the claim to cover the possibility of Kyiv planning to detonate “a low-yield nuclear device.”
“The Defense Ministry has evidence that the Kyiv regime is planning a provocation involving the detonation of a so-called dirty bomb or a low-yield nuclear device,” the TASS state news agency quoted the chief of Russia’s radiation, chemical and biological protection force, Lt. Gen. Igor Kirillov as saying.
“The purpose of the provocation is to accuse Russia of using weapons of mass destruction in the Ukrainian theater of operations, thus launching a major anti-Russian campaign around the world aimed at undermining trust towards Moscow.”
A “dirty bomb” is not a nuclear weapon, but one in which conventional explosive is used to disperse highly radioactive material.
Kirillov’s allegations take to a significantly more serious level the claims of a Ukrainian “false flag” attack or provocation designed to smear Russia.
Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia in a letter to Guterres urged him “to do everything in his power to prevent this heinous crime [a dirty bomb provocation] from happening,” RIA Novosti reported.
“We will regard the use of a ‘dirty bomb’ by the Kyiv regime as an act of nuclear terrorism,” he said.
Nebenzia wrote that, according to information obtained by the Russian defense ministry, “this provocation may be carried out with the support of the Western countries.”
Similar allegations were leveled by Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu in weekend phone calls with U.S. Defense Secretary Gen. Lloyd Austin and the British, French, and Turkish defense ministers
In a joint statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his British and French counterparts said the three governments “reject Russia’s transparently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory.”
“We unfortunately are all too familiar – the world is all too familiar with the Kremlin’s track record,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Monday. “We are concerned that this false allegation could be used as a pretext for further Russian escalation. And we’ve made that concern very clear.”
Invitation to IAEA: ‘We have nothing to hide’
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters on Monday that at Russia’s request the U.N. Security Council will meet on Tuesday to discuss its dirty bomb concerns, and that Russia has reliable evidence to back its claims.
“The unfounded denials by Western colleagues that these are falsehoods and that Russia itself plans to do something similar in order to later blame the regime of [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy are not serious,” he said.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed that two Ukrainian facilities – the Eastern Mining and Processing Plant in the south of the country and the Institute for Nuclear Research in Kyiv – had been tasked with making a dirty bomb.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi and invited him to send experts urgently to the facilities “which Russia deceitfully claims to be developing a dirty bomb.”
“He agreed,” Kuleba tweeted. “Unlike Russia, Ukraine has always been and remains transparent. We have nothing to hide.”
Grossi confirmed the plan to visit the two locations “in the coming days.” He noted that both locations have been visited regularly by IAEA inspectors – in one case just a month ago.
“No undeclared nuclear activities or material were found there.”
Kuleba also spoke by phone on Monday with E.U. foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who said afterwards the E.U. welcomed the invitation for IAEA experts to investigate “Russia’s latest false allegations.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre repeated the U.S. government position, which rejects “Russia’s transparently false allegation that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory.”
On Ukraine’s invitation to the IAEA, she said the U.S. welcomes “this commitment to transparency and the assurance it will provide the international community.”
“The world will see through any Russian attempt to use this allegation as pretext for escalation.”
Jean-Pierre reiterated that the U.S. has seen no reason to adjust its own nuclear posture, “nor do we have indication that Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons.”