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


Russia has accused Ukraine of planning to use the so-called Burty bomb, an accusation dismissed by Kyiv and its Western allies as a false flag operation that Moscow could 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 with radioactive material such as uranium. It is often referred to as a weapon of terrorists, not states, as it is designed to spread fear and terror rather than eliminate any military targets.

Ukrainian officials have rejected 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 there are scientific centers in Ukraine that have the technology needed to create a dirty bomb – and accuses Kyiv of planning to use it.

The Russian Defense Ministry said at a conference on October 24 that it has information indicating that Kyiv is planning a provocation related to the detonation of a dirty bomb.

Igor Kirillov, the head of Russian Radiation, said: “The purpose of this provocation is to accuse Russia of using destructive weapons in the theater of Ukraine and thus start a powerful anti-Russian campaign around the world that aims to undermine confidence in Moscow.” , Chemical and Biological Safety Associations.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made the claim in a phone 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.

Russia plans to raise its accusations against Ukraine to the UN Security Council on October 25, according to Reuters.

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

Russia’s accusations have been strongly denied by Ukraine, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and NATO, which have also accused Moscow of trying to launch its propaganda operation.

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

The White House said on October 24 “it is monitoring as much as possible” any possible preparations for the use of a dirty bomb in Ukraine but has not seen anything that indicates the use of such a weapon.

The UN nuclear watchdog said on October 24 that it would send inspectors to visit two nuclear sites in Ukraine after receiving a request to do so from the authorities in Kyiv.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it was “aware of the statements made by the Russian Federation on Sunday regarding alleged activities at two nuclear sites in Ukraine,” according to a news release on the agency’s website.

The IAEA has not given the location of the two sites.

In a tweet on October 24, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said: “Unlike Russia, Ukraine has always been and remains open.” We have nothing to hide.”


A dirty bomb explosion is produced by conventional explosives. An explosion from a nuclear weapon is caused by a nuclear reaction, similar to the atomic bombs the US dropped on Japan in World War II.

“A nuclear bomb creates an explosion thousands to millions of times more powerful than any conventional explosive that can be used in a dirty bomb,” according to a report by the United States Department of Defense (DHS).

A nuclear detonation can flatten entire cities. For example, the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in 1945 destroyed 2.6 miles (6.2 kilometers) of the city, according to ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. Conventional explosives in a dirty bomb may hit or damage a few buildings.

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

Most of the radioactive material from a dirty bomb would be spread over a few city blocks or a few square miles, according to DHS.


In 1995, Chechen rebels planted but failed to shoot it in a Moscow park, according to the Council on International Relations.

There are reports that terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda or ISIS have built or attempted to build a dirty bomb, but none have ever been detonated.

DHS says it is unlikely that a dirty bomb could deliver a high enough dose of radiation “to cause significant health effects or death.”

The Texas Department of Public Health Services explains why.

To make a dirty bomb capable of delivering lethal doses of radiation, large amounts of shielding in lead or iron would be needed to keep the materials from killing their makers during construction, it says.

But using shielding materials would make the bomb larger and harder to transport or transport, would likely require heavy equipment and remote control equipment, and would limit how far the radiation can spread, according to the Texas state agency.

The radiation produced by the dirty bomb can cause similar levels of exposure to the amount received during dental X-rays, according to Texas health services.

“It’s like breaking a rock. “If someone were to throw a big rock at you, it would probably hurt you and cause physical damage,” the department explained. If they take the same rock and break it into sand and throw the sand at you, the chances of it causing any real damage are very low.

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

“Traveling even a short distance from an (explosion) site can provide significant protection because the dose rate decreases significantly with distance from the source,” DHS said.

People should cover their noses and mouths to avoid inhaling any rays, go indoors to avoid any dust cloud, throw their clothes in a plastic bag and gently wash their skin to remove contamination, DHS says.


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