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


Russia accuses Ukraine From Planning to use the so-called dirty bomba claim rejected by Kyiv and its Western allies as a bogus operation that Moscow could use as a pretext to escalate the Kremlin. war against its neighbour.

A dirty bomb is a weapon that combines conventional explosives such as dynamite and radioactive materials such as uranium. It is often referred to as a weapon of terrorists, not of states, because it is designed to spread fear and panic rather than eliminate any military objective.

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly denied Moscow’s accusations, and Kyiv’s foreign minister has also 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 that there are scientific institutions in Ukraine that house the technology to make a dirty bomb – and accuses Kyiv of plotting to use it.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a press briefing on October 24 that it had information showing that Kyiv was planning a provocation related to the detonation of a dirty bomb.

said Igor Kirillov, head of the Russian company Radiation, chemical and biological protection forces.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said this 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 comments to his French and British counterparts.

After a closed-door meeting of the United Nations Security Council on October 25, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations told reporters he had told the council that his country believed there were two facilities in Ukraine potentially working to build a dirty bomb.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu drives his car along Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow on May 9, 2022.

Russia’s claims were strongly refuted by Ukraine, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and NATO, which in turn accused Moscow of trying to launch its own operation.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly speech on October 23: “Everyone understands everything well, and understands who is the source of everything filthy imaginable in this war.”

The White House said on October 24 that it was “monitoring as closely as possible” any possible preparations for the use of a dirty bomb in Ukraine, but that it saw nothing to indicate the imminent use of such a weapon.

The United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency said on October 24 that it would send inspectors to visit two nuclear sites in Ukraine after receiving a request to do so from authorities in Kyiv.

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

The International Atomic Energy Agency did not mention the location of these two sites.

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


The blast from a dirty bomb is caused by conventional explosives. The explosion of a nuclear weapon is caused by a nuclear reaction, such as The atomic bombs dropped by the United States 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 fact sheet from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

An explosion of a nuclear weapon could flatten 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, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. The conventional explosives found in a dirty bomb may flatten or damage a few buildings.

Meanwhile, a mushroom cloud from a nuclear explosion could cover tens to hundreds of square miles, spreading minute particles of nuclear material — radioactive dust — over that area, the Department of Homeland Security says.

Most of the radioactive material from a dirty bomb will be spread over a few swaths of a city or a few square miles, according to the Department of Homeland Security.


In 1995, Chechen rebels planted one in a Moscow park but failed to do so, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

There have been 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.

The Department of Homeland Security says a dirty bomb is unlikely to produce high enough doses of radiation “to cause immediate health effects or death to a significant number of people.”

The Texas Department of Health explains why.

To manufacture a dirty bomb capable of delivering lethal doses of radiation, large amounts of lead or steel shielding would be required to prevent the material from killing its makers during construction, she says.

But using such protective materials would make the bomb bulky and difficult to move or deploy, possibly requiring heavy equipment and remote handling tools, and limiting the extent to which the radiation can spread, according to the Texas State Agency.

Radiation from a dirty bomb may cause similar levels of exposure to the amount received during dental X-rays, according to Texas Health Services.

“It’s like smashing a rock. If someone throws a large stone at you it is likely to hurt you and may cause you physical harm,” the department explains. “If they take the same rock and break it into grains of sand and then throw the sand at you, the likelihood that it will cause any real damage is much lower.”

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

“Walking even a short distance from the blast site (can provide great protection because the dose rate drops dramatically with distance from the source,” says DHS).

People should also cover their noses and mouths to avoid ingesting any radiation, go inside to escape any dust cloud, dispose of their clothes in a plastic bag and then gently wash their skin to remove contaminants, says DHS.

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