The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on March 7 said it has received reports of artillery shells damaging a nuclear research facility in Ukraine’s besieged second city Kharkiv, but there was no “radiological consequence”.

The Vienna-based UN body said Ukrainian authorities reported an attack took place on March 6, adding that no increase in radiation levels had been reported at the site.

Because the site’s “inventory of radioactive material is very low” and kept at a “subcritical” state, the IAEA said “the damage reported to it would not have had any radiological consequence”.

The facility is part of the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology, a research institute that produces radioactive material for medical and industrial applications.

Kharkiv has come under intense shelling and missile attacks in recent days, as the Ukraine conflict unfolds.

The nuclear institute itself has been at the centre of online conspiracy theories and unsubstantiated claims that the ruling Ukrainian regime is attempting to develop a “dirty bomb” – a crude nuclear weapon capable of causing mass casualties.

The IAEA said this was just the latest instance of a nuclear facility becoming caught up in the Ukraine crisis.

There have been reports of damage to radioactive waste disposal facilities near Kyiv and Kharkiv, and that the Zaporizhzhia – Europe’s largest nuclear power plant – had been hit, causing a fire that had to be contained. Only two of the facility’s six reactors are operating.