The amount of enriched uranium and plutonium found on the territory of the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine's Energodar was more than enough. Such volumes could be used for the production of nuclear weapons, Sergey Kondratiev, deputy head of the department at the Institute of Energy and Finance told lenta. ru publication. The discovery calls into question the viability of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and Euratom (European Atomic Energy Community).
There were about 30 tons of plutonium and 40 tons of enriched uranium found on the territory of the Zaporizhzhya NPP in the city of Energodar, The Wall Street Journal journalist Lawrence Norman tweeted. The journalist referred to the statement that Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi made at the Davos Economic Forum.
"Thirty tons of plutonium, 40 tons of enriched uranium is a lot. I even wonder whether there is a mistake in those numbers. Uranium should be enriched to a level above 80 percent for the production of nuclear weapons. Nuclear power units, as a rule, use ordinary uranium enriched up to 2-5 percent. At the same time, the international community was highly concerned when Iran enriched uranium up to 20-25 percent," Kondratiev said.
One needs to first ensure that the information is correct, the specialist said. If all is confirmed, one will need to find out how the NPP received such large amounts of enriched uranium and plutonium, as these radioactive materials are subject to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
"Ukraine, as a party to international agreements, will have to explain. TVEL, a nuclear fuel supplier (Russian nuclear fuel cycle company headquartered in Moscow — ed.), takes spent nuclear fuel back. This rule is strictly observed to exclude a possibility for the recipient country to carry out manipulations that could violate the non-proliferation treaty,” Kondratiev said.
However, Westinghouse, another supplier, did not take waste away from Ukraine. For this purpose, a special facility was built in the country in the Chernobyl zone to ensure long-term storage.
According to the specialist, one does not accumulate 40 tons of enriched uranium in one or two months, Kondratiev noted. This suggests that the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant was involved in a long-term process that someone supervised. Moreover, based on the fact that such materials should be subject to meticulous control and accounting, both Energoatom and the supplier of nuclear materials should have been aware of the situation.
"For 15 years, the IAEA has been trying to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. However, it just so happens that similar events were rapidly unfolding in the very center of Europe. This puts all nonproliferation efforts into question,” the expert concluded.
The Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant is one of Europe's largest nuclear power plants. Its construction began in 1979. The last, sixth power unit was put into operation in 1996. All the nuclear power units of the station were made in Russia.
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