Aside from numerous victims, destruction of the infrastructure and significant ecological issues armed conflict on the territory of Ukraine unleashed by Russia comprises one more rather specific though extremely dangerous trouble. I’m referring to the unsupervised separatists’ access to the nuclear repository within occupied territory. One of such repositories is located on the premises of the seized Donetsk state-owned chemical plant in that formerly was a powerful ammunition and explosives production facility. According to the experts assessments some substances (radioactive waste) buried there can be used for construction of the so-called “rigged bomb”.
Traditionally “rigged bomb” is not a nuclear weapon. In fact it is radiologic weapon which is a variety of mass destruction weapon. Its warhead is made of radioactive materials emitting ionizing radiation. This bomb consists of container with radioactive isotopes and charge (trinitrotoluene). Detonating of the charge destroys the container with isotopes and due to shock wave radioactive agent get dispersed within a great range. Thus “rigged bomb” can be classified as a type of chemical weapon.
Above-mentioned nuclear waste repository built in 1958 is a hill encircled with razor-wire covering a concrete vault with dimensions of 10*20*3 m and 600 cubic meters capacity. Currently there are 400 cubic meters of nuclear waste allocated among 150 containers. Meanwhile the quantity of liquid substance tanks remains unknown.
The situation in Donetsk and Lugansk regions is far from being peacefully settled according to the provisions of the Minsk agreements. In this respect the messages popping out in the mass media concerning Russian-backed rebels’ intention to construct the so-called “rigged bomb” by the means of the industrial radioactive waste appear to be very alarming.
In the beginning of August two trustworthy Western publications — Newsweek and Times — mentioned that according to the intelligence provided by the Security Service of Ukraine separatists set about extracting industrial radioactive waste from the repository in Donetsk. It is noteworthy that in this very case it has nothing common with the self-conceit of the Russian-backed rebels but with well-weighed activity guided by Russian specialists in the field of nuclear weapon. Under the guise of providing humanitarian support Russian specialists give consultations to the insurgents helping them to extract radioactive materials from the repository for they could use them with military purpose. In the mid-August a “small” delegation of the experts from the Kurchatov institute (Center for Nuclear Studies) stayed in Donbas.
OSCE observers aren’t let in the area of the Donetsk state-owned chemical plant where the repository is located therefore they can’t find out the nature of work carried out there. Moreover in order to provoke Ukrainian military the separatists use plant storehouse facilities for the ammunition storage which has led to numerous shell attacks from the Ukrainian side (according to the separatist leaders). In October 2014 as well as in June 2015 several powerful explosions were noticed in the grounds of the plant. Shock wave created by those blasts spread over several dozens of kilometer. Besides, a rapidly arising cloud taking after the nuclear mushroom clouds was also visible. Significant background radiation increase took place at the same time which invoked particular attention and concern among the locals.
The fact that international community remains uninvolved in the topic of grave violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention outlawing the production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons. International community is equally somewhat indifferent to those breaching this convention i.e. Russian-backed terrorist formations in Donbas. According to the provisions of the above-mentioned Convention thorough investigation for cause of production and use of chemical weapons must be carried out immediately. Against the backdrop of explicit nuclear blackmail and aggressive rhetoric of the Russian media and Russian high-ranking officials international community should treat more seriously the messages concerning potential use of “rigged bomb” in Donbas which is a variety of weapons of mass destruction.