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


Russia has accused Ukraine of planning to use a dirty bomb, which Kiev and its Western allies dismiss as a false flag that Moscow can use as an excuse to escalate the Kremlin’s war on its neighbor.

A dirty bomb is a device that combines conventional explosives such as dynamite and radioactive material such as uranium. It is called a tool for terrorists, not countries, as it is designed to spread fear and panic beyond military targeting.

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

Here’s what you need to know.

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

In a briefing on October 24, the Russian Ministry of Defense stated that it had information indicating that Kyiv was planning a provocation related to the explosion of dirty bombs.

“The purpose of this campaign is to accuse Russia of using weapons of mass destruction in the Ukrainian theater of operations and thereby launch an anti-Russian campaign aimed at discrediting Moscow,” said Igor Kirillov, the head of Russian Radio. , chemical and biological protection forces.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made the claim in an Oct. 23 call with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, according to a U.S. official familiar with the conversation.

Shoigu made similar comments to his French and British counterparts.

Reuters reports that Russia plans to present its case against Ukraine to the United Nations Security Council on October 25.

In the year  Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu drives through Red Square during the Victory Day military parade on May 9, 2022 in Moscow.

Russia’s accusations have been vehemently denied by Ukraine, the US, the UK, the European Union and NATO, which in turn have accused Moscow of attempting its own false flag campaign.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his evening speech on October 23, “Everyone understands everything very well, who is the source of all the dirty things that can be thought of in this war.”

The White House said on October 24 that it was “monitoring to the best of our ability” any preparations to use a dirty bomb in Ukraine, but there was no indication that such a weapon was imminent.

The UN nuclear watchdog said on October 24 that it would send inspectors to visit two nuclear sites in Ukraine after receiving a request from Kiev officials.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a news release on the agency’s website that it was “aware of the Russian Federation’s announcement on Sunday about the activities at two nuclear sites in Ukraine.”

The IAEA did not provide the location of the two sites.

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


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

According to data from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), “a nuclear bomb would produce thousands to millions of times more explosions than any random explosion you could use in a dirty bomb.”

The blast from a nuclear weapon can destroy entire cities. For example, the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945 destroyed 2.6 square miles (6.2 square kilometers) of the city, according to ICAN, an international effort to eliminate nuclear weapons. The conventional explosives in a dirty bomb can only destroy or damage a few buildings.

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

Most of the radioactive material from a detonated bomb is spread over a few city blocks or a few square miles, DHS says.


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

There have been reports of terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda or ISIS making or attempting to make dirty bombs, but none of them have been unexploded.

DHS says a dirty bomb can deliver enough radiation to “cause immediate health damage or death to many people.”

The Texas Department of State Health Services explains why.

To make a dirty bomb capable of delivering lethal doses of radiation, a large amount of lead or iron shielding would be needed during construction to prevent the makers from being killed, he explained.

But using such shielding materials would make the bomb bulky and difficult to move or deploy, would likely require heavy equipment and remote control equipment, and would limit how far the radiation could spread, the Texas state agency said.

The radiation from a dirty bomb causes the same amount of exposure as during a dental procedure, according to the Texas Health Service.

“It’s like breaking a rock. If someone throws a big stone at you, it can hurt you and cause physical harm,” explains the department. “If you take the same rock and break it into sand and drop it and throw the sand at you, it’s much less likely to do real damage.”

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

“Even walking a short distance from the[explosion]site can provide significant protection because the dose rate decreases with distance from the source,” DHS said.

People should cover their noses and mouths to avoid exposure to radiation, go indoors to escape the dust cloud, put their clothes in a plastic bag and then gently wash their skin to remove contamination, DHS said.


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