US Installing ‘Atomic Sensors’ Across Ukraine To Detect Use Of Nuclear Or Dirty Bombs By Russian Military

The US is installing a network of sensors across Ukraine to detect a possible nuclear explosion and bursts of radiation, the New York Times reported.

The sensors will be able to detect radiation from both a dirty bomb and a nuclear weapon activated in Ukraine, the report said.

In a statement, the Nuclear Emergency Support Team (NEST) said that the network of atomic sensors was being deployed “throughout the region” and would have the ability “to characterize the size, location, and effects of any nuclear explosion.”

The move would allegedly deny Russia any opportunity to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine without attribution, the report said.

The sensors will presumably serve as deterrence because they would make Russian decision-makers aware the United States can expose the use of a nuclear weapon as a false-flag operation, the report cited the statement as saying.

“If a nuclear emergency were to occur in Ukraine, whether a radiation release from a nuclear reactor or a nuclear weapon detonation,” the statement said. “Scientific analyses would be rapidly provided to US government authorities and decision-making centers in Ukraine and the region to make actionable, technically informed decisions to protect public health and safety.”

Earlier this week, US National Nuclear Security Administration chief Jill Hruby confirmed in congressional testimony that her agency, along with the National Security Agency (NSA), have installed sensors in Ukraine to detect radiological activity and has already started training people in Ukraine on how to respond in case of a nuclear blast.

Middle East ‘Boils’

US intelligence agencies reportedly discovered last December that construction work has resumed at a suspected Chinese military facility in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

This development comes a year after the UAE stated that it would halt the construction project due to concerns raised by the United States, the Washington Post reported, citing the leaked classified documents. 

The United States intelligence community reportedly closely monitors several developments involving the Chinese military in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), including activities at a port near Abu Dhabi. 

The concern stems from fears that the UAE, a traditional security partner of the US, is forging stronger security ties with China, potentially at the expense of American interests.

The report said that these concerns have been detailed in documents seen by sources and corroborated by senior officials in the Biden administration. 

Photo taken on December 10, 2018, shows China’s COSCO Shipping Ports Limited (CSP) Abu Dhabi Terminal at Khalifa Port, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). (Xinhua photo)

Furthermore, US officials have expressed concern over the presence of Chinese military personnel spotted around other sensitive construction sites.  

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is pursuing an ambitious global military strategy that includes establishing at least five overseas bases and ten logistical support sites by the year 2030.

The document reportedly features a map outlining other planned facilities in different regions, including the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Africa.

Thus, the Chinese military’s efforts in the UAE are perceived as a part of this larger campaign, which has raised concerns among US officials over China’s growing military presence and influence worldwide.

Chinese military officials have named this initiative “Project 141”. That said, the discovery has raised alarm bells in Washington, pointing to China’s continued efforts to expand its military presence in strategic locations across the globe.

The disclosure of China’s global military network initiative comes when Beijing seeks to expand its role as a global player. 

In recent months, China has been mediating between Saudi Arabia and Iran. It also proposed a peace plan to resolve the conflict in Ukraine. 

Why China’s Expanding Footprint Is A Concern For The US?

The Middle East, in particular, has emerged as a key area of competition between the US and China, as Beijing seeks to strengthen its trade and political ties in a region that the US has traditionally dominated.

US officials have often reiterated their stance that they will not allow a Chinese military base to become operational in the UAE. They argue that the establishment of such a facility would pose a threat to sensitive US military operations in the Middle East.

Washington has long considered the region a critical strategic area of operations and is likely to resist any attempts by China to expand its military footprint in the region.

US officials closely monitor the Khalifa Port, located approximately 50 miles north of the UAE’s capital, Abu Dhabi. A Chinese shipping conglomerate is currently operating the port, and US officials have voiced concerns over its potential use for military purposes.

In December 2021, the UAE announced that it had halted Chinese construction activities at the port following objections from US officials. Despite this, given its strategic location, the US remains wary of any further Chinese involvement at the site. 

File:Type 002 aircraft carrier of People's Liberation Army Navy.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
File Image: Type 002 aircraft carrier of People’s Liberation Army Navy

However, a year after the UAE’s announcement, the leaked documents suggest that a PLA facility was still being developed in the area. The facility is believed to have been connected to municipal power and water supplies, while “a walled perimeter was completed for a PLA logistics storage site,” the Washington Post said. 

The PLA facility at the Khalifa Port is considered to be a key component of Beijing’s broader plan to establish a military base in the UAE, the report added.

The terminal at Khalifa Port is just one of over 100 strategically located commercial ports and terminals that China has invested in around the world. 

In addition to the developments at the Khalifa Port, the Biden administration is reportedly concerned about the presence of PLA personnel at two UAE military bases located in the country’s interior. 

These bases are known to operate drones and ballistic missile defense systems, and the presence of Chinese military personnel at these sites raised further alarm among US officials. 

PLA is apparently also involved in constructing and expanding an airstrip down the coast of Abu Dhabi. Currently, Djibouti in the northeastern African continent is the only overseas location where China has an officially acknowledged overseas base, which was opened by the PLA Navy in 2017. 

Even so, the two senior US officials told the Post that it is unlikely that the UAE would jeopardize its security relationship with the US too much, even if it may prefer China’s agnostic stance on issues such as human rights and democracy.