What is the “dirty bomb”, the crossed accusation between Russia and Ukraine that stirs up the nuclear panic again

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The Russian Ministry of Defense He says that Ukraine could detonate a “dirty bomb” within its own territory to later blame Moscow for this dangerous and reputationally costly maneuver. The foreign ministers of France, the United Kingdom and the United States, for their part, accuse Russia to launch unfounded warnings with the aim of adding pretexts for an escalation of the war.

Although no one knows for sure what will happen, and never in history has there been a dirty bomb attack, the fear about the use of this type of radiological device is present. With this, questions also arise about its operation and its true power of destruction. Is it as dangerous and lethal as a nuclear bomb? Let’s look at its main factors to understand it better.

Dirty bomb is not the same as nuclear bomb

When talking about radiological weapons, we generally have to think of the devastating consequences of a nuclear explosion, such as the one that occurred in Hiroshima or Nagasaki, in 1945. However, not all radiological weapons work in the same way or have the same power. destructive. First of all, it should be noted that dirty bombs are not nuclear bombs, explain from the CDC.

While a nuclear bomb is a device that derives its destructive force from a nuclear reaction, which involves the splitting of atoms and a huge release of energy that produces the atomic cloud, the dirty bomb uses dynamite or other conventional explosives to disperse radioactive dust. The effects of the latter, while dangerous, are not necessarily immediately lethal.

In this way, the radioactive material is not presented as the main danger of a dirty bomb, although this component has a very clear purpose: sow panic among the population and cause psychological damage. The explosion, in this case, does have the capacity to cause deaths, serious injuries and even damage buildings, but in limited proportions and not comparable to those of a nuclear explosion.

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Although it depends on the type and amount of radioactive materials used, a dirty bomb explosion can cause radiation exposure to humans. In general, this would not be high enough to cause serious illness right away. However, people located near the impact site could suffer from radiation sickness.

The CDC also mentions the factor of radioactive contamination. Weather conditions, such as wind and rain, could cause dust and smoke from the explosion spread beyond the site of the attack, posing a risk to people who unknowingly inhale them. This is because it is not possible to detect the presence of radiation by sight, taste or smell.

The protocol recommended by the US agency in the event of a dirty bomb explosion includes avoiding inhalation of dust and smoke, as well as avoiding touching objects that could be contaminated after the explosion. Also take shelter indoors, blocking the entry of smoke or dust through window or door openings and not eating food that has been outdoors.

Construction and use of a dirty bomb

As we have seen, one of the elements necessary to assemble a radioactive bomb is radioactive material. Despite the fact that it is an element that presents a risk to health and that its availability is subject to strict regulations, there are thousands of “orphan” sources scattered around the world, says the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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We are talking about radioactive materials that are commonly used in hospitals, research facilities or industrial sites that, for some reason, have been abandoned, lost, stolen or illegally transferred. If an organization obtains this material, it could technically combine it with conventional explosives to create a dirty bomb.

This was the explosion of the Russian Tsar bomb that had 3,000 times the power of the one launched in Hiroshima

Due to their characteristics, dirty bombs have been described as “high-tech weapons” and not “weapons of mass destruction”, but its use could be considered illegal due to the risk to the civilian population. In this case, the use of this type of artifact could be too risky for any actor involved in a war, exposing himself to a negative reputational impact.

Images: Akram Husayn | nal | Girl with red hat

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The Russian Ministry of Defense He says that Ukraine could detonate a “dirty bomb” within its own territory to later…

The Russian Ministry of Defense He says that Ukraine could detonate a “dirty bomb” within its own territory to later…

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