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Twenty-eight years after its Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded, Ukraine confronts a nuclear specter of a different kind: the possibility that the country's reactors could become military targets in the event of a Russian invasion. Speaking at the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague in March, Andrii Deshchytsia, Ukraine's acting foreign minister, cited the "potential threat to many nuclear facilities" should events deteriorate into open warfare.With the exception of the Balkan conflict in the 1990s, wars have not been fought against or within countries that own nuclear reactors.Fortunately, the war concluded with both reactors still untouched.While that case provides some assurance that military and political leaders will think twice about attacking nuclear reactors, the sheer scale of Ukraine's nuclear enterprise calls for far greater global concern. Today, 15 aging plants provide 40 percent of the country's electricity generation. Warfare is rife with accidents and human error, and such an event involving a nuclear plant could cause a meltdown.Such risks might be one reason for Russian President Vladimir Putin to think twice about ordering a military invasion of Ukraine, if indeed that is his intention. But, should war come, combatants must do all they can to keep conflict away from the nuclear sites and the off-site power sources feeding them.
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Nuclear disarmament examples provide Iran bleak options
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