Truth Still Radioactive 20 Years After Chernobyl

TOLEDO, OH -- Twenty years ago this week a nuclear reactor blew up at the Chernobyl power plant in the then-Soviet Ukraine.

A chimney tower stands over the sarcophagus that covers destroyed Reactor No. 4 at Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear power plant on Saturday, April 22, 2006.

The world's worst nuclear-power accident has killed between 50 and 200,000 people, depending on who is counting - independent experts or Russian bureaucrats and their sidekicks in the United Nations.

The latter grossly underestimate the death toll. They simply refuse to acknowledge the link between the accident and the ensuing spike in cancer-related deaths in the area.

Ever since the breakup of the Soviet Union 15 years ago, Russians have been accusing Ukrainians of trying to bilk them by exaggerating the effects of the Chernobyl disaster. These allegations intensified after a U.S.-supported democracy was established in Ukraine early last year.

The Kremlin has recently dredged up another overused allegation - that Ukraine withheld 200 to 250 nuclear warheads when it turned over its nuclear cache to Russia in 1996.

Though the transfer was executed under a U.S. supervision, Russian-affiliated Ukrainian lawmakers have made this claim several times over the past several years, each time without any proof and each time for obvious political reasons of their own.

It happened again earlier this month, but with one significant difference.

The old claim was picked up by a publication in Novaya Gazeta, an independent Moscow newspaper famous for its unabated criticism of the Kremlin.

Moreover, the author of the article hinted that the 250 nukes have ended up in Iran.

Because I held the author and the newspaper in high esteem, I seriously wondered what was going on.

It was soon very clear.

"Russia's general staff has no information about whether Ukraine has given 250 nuclear warheads to Iran or not," Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, Russia's deputy defense minister and the chief of the general staff, said, according to RIA Novosti, a major Kremlin-affiliated news and feature agency.

Does that sound reassuring?

This amounts to saying that there's a 50-50 chance that Iran is in possession of 250 nuclear warheads.

You have to consider the source to see that the chance of that is in fact slim to none.

Russia is simply protecting its multibillion-dollar interests in the Iranian nuclear industry it is developing.

Iran is enriching uranium in defiance of the international community, which is quite certain that it is doing so to build its own nuclear weapons.

Russia has been stalling the process of bringing Iran in compliance with the U.S.-led effort to force it to give up its uranium enrichment program.

As the diplomatic efforts are failing and proposed economic measures appear to be doomed, there has been official U.S. talk that all options (read "including the military") are open to tame Iran. So the Kremlin decided to caution the United States against going down that road.

But unlike the "missing nukes," the broken reactor continues to pose a threat. A degraded sarcophagus entombing the reactor may soon collapse, causing a disaster of a scale similar to the original one, independent Russian experts say.

The Kremlin, however, is ignoring the real nuclear threat from the broken Chernobyl reactor. It focuses instead on playing the fictional missing nukes card, interfering with the international effort to prevent another real nuclear threat - Iran developing a nuclear weapon.

Source: TMC Net