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Russian-Ukrainian war: what is a dirty bomb?

Kyiv and its Western allies have accused Russia of claiming Ukraine was planning to use a “dirty bomb” as a plot to use the threat of a missile containing nuclear material as a pretext for escalating the war.

On Sunday night, amid a Ukrainian advance on Kherson, Moscow’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu phoned his Western counterparts to tell them his country suspected Kyiv of planning the use of a ‘dirty bomb’ and that the war was tending towards an “uncontrolled escalation”.

Ukraine does not possess nuclear weapons, while Russia has declared that it could protect its territory with its nuclear arsenal.

Mr Shoigu’s claim was denounced by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who called the accusation “absurd” and “dangerous”, while a joint statement, Britain, France and the United States said “the world would see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation.

On Monday, Russia continued to insist that Kyiv was plotting to detonate a device containing radioactive material.

What is a dirty bomb?

A dirty bomb is a type of radiological dispersal device (RDD) that combines a conventional explosive with radioactive material.

As is the case with most RDDs, Dirty Bombs would not release enough radiation to kill people or cause serious health problems. Indeed, it is often the conventional explosive that is the most harmful to individuals.

Low levels of radiation exposure usually cause no symptoms. People may not know if they have been exposed because the radiation cannot be seen, smelled or tasted.

Dirty bombs, unlike nuclear bombs, are not known as “weapons of mass destruction”, but as “weapons of mass disruption”, as they are often used as a means of spreading fear and mass panic among the targets.

Defense officials are keen to point out that a dirty bomb has no relation to a nuclear bomb, which has the ability to create an explosion millions of times more powerful than an RDD.

Radiation clouds from nuclear bombs can also spread over tens to hundreds of square kilometers, while those from a dirty bomb can only disperse within a few kilometers of the explosion.

Of course, the extent of local contamination depends on a long list of variables, including the size of the explosive, the amount and type of radioactive material used to create it, how it was deployed, and weather conditions. .

Radioactive dust and smoke can travel far and are dangerous if inhaled near the epicenter of the explosion. But as radioactive materials spread through the atmosphere, they become less concentrated and less harmful.

Key factors in radiation exposure are the type of radiation it is, how long a person is exposed to it, and whether the radiation has been absorbed through the skin, inhaled, or consumed orally.

Specialized equipment is needed to detect radiation. Contaminated homes, businesses and utilities could be locked out for months and require a costly cleanup operation.


The Independent Gt

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