With Ukrainian forces advancing into strategic Russian occupied province of Kherson, top Russian officials are reported to have phoned Western counterparts on October 23 and 24 to tell them that they suspected Ukraine of planning to use the “dirty bomb“.
Meanwhile, Ukraine and Western countries say that there is no truth in the accusation and that Moscow could be making the allegation to justify an escalation of its own.
DIRTY BOMB AND WHAT IS IT
Dirty bombs have long been feared as a potential weapon of terrorists. It is because their main objective is to spread panic, confusion and anxiety by hurling radioactive dust and smoke into the atmosphere. These bombs do not create atomic explosion but are designed to spread toxic waste.
They are much easier and cheaper to build than a nuclear device and also far less dangerous. Dirty bombs use conventional explosives, such as dynamite, placed alongside radioactive material, which is then flung outward by the force of the blast.
The material used in the bomb could have been obtained from radioactive sources used in medicine and industry.
DIRTY BOMB AND HOW DANGEROUS
The amount of radioactive material dispersed, while dangerous, is not necessarily lethal. The immediate health impact would be limited, since most people in an affected area would be able to escape before experiencing lethal doses of radiation. However, the economic damage could be massive.
The radioactive dust and smoke can spread far and are dangerous if inhaled near the blast’s epicentre. But as radioactive material spreads through the atmosphere, it becomes less concentrated and less harmful.