Recently russia has told the United Nations Security Council that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb. Russia has said that Keiv has ordered two organisations to develop the dirty bomb. The United Kingdom, France and the USA has said the allegations made by russia on Ukraine were “transparently false”, washington even warned russia that there would be “severe consequences” for any use of nuclear weapons by the Russian Armed Forces. Although there is currently no evidence of Ukraine making a dirty bomb, and also russia is not able to show any evidence to prove its claim. But what actually is a “dirty bomb”?
A dirty bomb or radiological dispersal device is a radiological weapon that combines radioactive material with conventional explosives.
The purpose of the weapon is to contaminate the area around the dispersal agent/conventional explosion with radioactive material, serving primarily as an area denial device against civilians.
It is not to be confused with a nuclear explosion, such as a fission bomb, which produces blast effects far in excess of what is achievable by the use of conventional explosives.
Unlike the cloud of radiation from a typical fission bomb, a dirty bomb’s radiation can be dispersed only within a few hundred meters or a few miles of the explosion.
Dirty bombs have never been used, only tested. They are designed to disperse radioactive material over a certain area. They act through the effects of radioactive contamination on the environment and related health effects of radiation poisoning in the affected populations.
The containment and decontamination of victims, as well as decontamination of the affected area may require a considerable time and expenses, rendering areas partly unusable and causing economic damage. Dirty bombs might be used to create mass panic as a weapon of terror.
When dealing with the implications of a dirty bomb attack, there are two main areas to be addressed: the civilian impact, not only dealing with immediate casualties and long term health issues, but also the psychological effect, and the economic impact.
With no prior event of a dirty bomb detonation, it is considered difficult to predict the impact. Several analyses have predicted that radiological dispersal devices will neither sicken nor kill many people.