The UN’s nuclear watchdog is worried that some of the fissile materials that could potentially be used to produce a nuclear weapon could go missing 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 southern Ukraine, which was captured by Russian troops in February, but is operated by Ukrainian nuclear specialists. The IAEA is concerned about the challenges it faces in monitoring Europe’s largest civilian nuclear site due to the ongoing conflict, he said.
“Six nuclear reactors, 30,000 kilograms of plutonium, 40,000 kilograms of enriched uranium. And my inspectors do not have access to that,” he said, describing the situation, which he called “unprecedented” and “unsustainable.”
The biggest concern, he added, is that when inspectors are eventually able to take inventory of the stock, “we end up finding out that there are a few hundred kilograms of nuclear weapon-grade material going missing. This is what keeps us awake at night at the moment.”