'Disaster of biblical proportions': James Clapper slams Russia's 'cavalier' attitude to operating around nuclear plants
James Clapper -- CNN screenshot

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Thursday told CNN's Erin Burnett that he's very worried watching how the Russian military so far has operated around Ukraine's nuclear power plants.

While discussing the possibility of Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, Burnett asked Clapper for his thoughts on a potential environmental catastrophe that could be unleashed by Russian military forces destroying a nuclear reactor.

"I'm even more concerned, particularly watching... reckless, irresponsible, incompetent or all of the above behavior of the Russians with respect to the 15 nuclear reactors in Ukraine," he said. "If one of these is attacked, damaged or if there's no power for cooling, this could be a disaster of biblical proportions, not just for Ukraine but for the region. I'm very concerned about it, particularly given the Russians' cavalier attitude about protecting them."

While there have been reports of Russian forces damaging nuclear plants, so far none of those actions have caused dangerous increases of radiation.

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Clapper also said that the situation for Western nations would change dramatically should Putin use chemical weapons on Ukrainian civilians.

"To me, we cannot sit still, we the west, we NATO, we the United States cannot sit still if the Russians use chemical weapons against -- particularly against innocent civilians," he said.

Watch the video below.

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