What is a dirty bomb and why is Russia talking about it?



CNN

Russia accuses Ukraine of planning to use a so-called dirty bomb, a charge that Kyiv and its Western allies have dismissed as a hoax and that Moscow could use as a pretext to escalate the Kremlin’s war against its neighbor. slow

A dirty bomb is a weapon that combines conventional explosives such as dynamite with radioactive materials such as uranium. It is often referred to as a weapon for terrorists, not states, because it is designed to spread fear rather than destroy any military objective.

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly denied Moscow’s accusations, and Kyiv’s foreign minister has invited UN inspectors to visit Ukraine to show they have “nothing to hide.”

Here’s what you need to know.

Without providing any evidence, Moscow claims that there are scientific institutions in Ukraine that contain the technology needed to create a dirty bomb – and accuses Kyiv of planning to use it.

The Russian Defense Ministry announced at a press conference on October 24 that it had information indicating that Kyiv was planning a provocative detonation of a dirty bomb.

Igor Krylov, head of the Russian Radioactive Organization, said: “The purpose of this provocative action is to accuse Russia of using weapons of mass destruction in the scene of the Ukrainian operation, and as a result, to launch a powerful anti-Russian campaign in the world with the aim of undermining trust in Moscow.” , chemical and biological protection forces.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made the claim in a call with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on October 23, according to a US official familiar with the conversation.

Shoigu also made similar statements to his French and British counterparts.

According to Reuters, Russia plans to present its accusations against Ukraine in the UN Security Council on October 25.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is driven along Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow on May 9, 2022.

Russia’s claims have been strongly denied by Ukraine, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and NATO, which in turn have accused Moscow of trying to launch its own false flag operation.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his evening speech on October 23: “Everyone understands everything very well, they know that the source of all the dirt that can be imagined in this war.”

The White House said on October 24 that it was monitoring “to the best of its ability” any potential preparations to use a dirty bomb in Ukraine, but saw nothing to indicate the imminent use of such a weapon.

The UN nuclear watchdog announced on October 24 that it was sending inspectors to visit two nuclear sites in Ukraine after receiving a request from authorities in Kyiv.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it was aware of the Russian Federation’s statement on Sunday about alleged activities at two nuclear sites in Ukraine.

The International Atomic Energy Agency did not disclose the location of these two sites.

“Unlike Russia, Ukraine has always been and will remain transparent,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kolba tweeted on October 24. We have nothing to hide.”

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The explosion of a dirty bomb is caused by conventional explosives. The detonation of a nuclear weapon is caused by a nuclear reaction, such as the atomic bombs that the United States dropped on Japan in World War II.

According to a fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), “a nuclear bomb creates an explosion that is thousands to millions of times more powerful than any conventional explosive that might be used in a dirty bomb.”

The explosion of a nuclear weapon can level entire cities. For example, according to ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945 obliterated 2.6 square miles (6.2 km2) of the city. Conventional explosives in a dirty bomb may only flatten or damage a few buildings.

Meanwhile, the mushroom cloud from a nuclear explosion can cover tens to hundreds of square miles, spreading tiny particles of nuclear material—radioactive fallout—over that area.

According to DHS, most radioactive material from a dirty bomb is spread over a few city blocks or a few square miles.

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In 1995, Chechen rebels detonated one in a Moscow park but failed to detonate it, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

There have been reports that terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda or ISIS have made or attempted dirty bombs, but none have exploded.

DHS says it is unlikely that a dirty bomb could deliver high enough doses of radiation to “reach large numbers of people with immediate health or mortality effects.”

The Texas Department of State Health Services explains why.

To make a dirty bomb capable of delivering lethal doses of radiation, large amounts of lead or steel shielding would be needed to prevent the builders from being killed during construction.

But using such shielding materials would make the bomb bulky and difficult to move or deploy, likely requiring heavy equipment and remote control tools, limiting the amount of radiation released, according to the Texas state agency.

According to the Texas Health Service, the radiation produced by a dirty bomb creates levels of exposure similar to the amount received during a dental X-ray.

“It’s like breaking a rock. If someone tries to throw a big rock at you, it’s probably going to hurt you, and it’s going to hurt you physically. If they take that same rock and break it into grains of sand and then If they throw sand at you, you’re much less likely to do any real damage.

According to DHS, the severity of radiation sickness is affected by exposure over time. Preventive measures can be as simple as staying away from home.

“Walking even a short distance from an (explosion) scene can provide significant protection because the dose decreases dramatically with distance from the source,” DHS said.

People should also cover their noses and mouths to avoid ingesting any radiation, stay indoors to avoid any dust clouds, put their clothes in a plastic bag, and then wash their skin gently, DHS says. to remove pollutants.

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