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Dirty bomb

Dirty bomb

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A dirty bomb is a speculative radiological weapon that combines radioactive material with conventional explosives. The purpose of the weapon is to contaminate the area around the explosion with radioactive material, hence the attribute "dirty".

Though a radiological dispersal device (RDD) would be designed to disperse radioactive material over a large area, a bomb
Bomb
A bomb is any of a range of explosive weapons that only rely on the exothermic reaction of an explosive material to provide an extremely sudden and violent release of energy...

 that uses conventional explosives would likely have more immediate lethal effect than the radioactive material. At levels created from most probable sources, not enough radiation
Radioactive contamination
Radioactive contamination, also called radiological contamination, is radioactive substances on surfaces, or within solids, liquids or gases , where their presence is unintended or undesirable, or the process giving rise to their presence in such places...

 would be present to cause severe illness or death. A test explosion and subsequent calculations done by the United States Department of Energy
United States Department of Energy
The United States Department of Energy is a Cabinet-level department of the United States government concerned with the United States' policies regarding energy and safety in handling nuclear material...

 found that assuming nothing is done to clean up the affected area and everyone stays in the affected area for one year, the radiation exposure would be "fairly high", but not fatal. Recent analysis of the nuclear fallout
Nuclear fallout
Fallout is the residual radioactive material propelled into the upper atmosphere following a nuclear blast, so called because it "falls out" of the sky after the explosion and shock wave have passed. It commonly refers to the radioactive dust and ash created when a nuclear weapon explodes...

 from the Chernobyl disaster
Chernobyl disaster
The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine , which was under the direct jurisdiction of the central authorities in Moscow...

 confirms this, showing that the effect on many people in the surrounding area, although not those in close proximity, was almost negligible.

Since a dirty bomb is unlikely to cause many deaths, many do not consider this to be a weapon of mass destruction. Its purpose would presumably be to create psychological, not physical, harm through ignorance, mass panic, and terror. For this reason dirty bombs are sometimes called "weapons of mass disruption". Additionally, containment and decontamination of thousands of victims, as well as decontamination of the affected area might require considerable time and expense, rendering areas partly unusable and causing economic damage.

Other uses of the term


The term has also been used historically to refer to certain types of nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

s. Due to the inefficiency of early nuclear weapons, only a small amount of the nuclear material
Nuclear material
Nuclear material refers to the metals uranium, plutonium, and thorium, in any form, according to the IAEA. This is differentiated further into "source material", consisting of natural and depleted uranium, and "special fissionable material", consisting of enriched uranium , uranium-233, and...

 would be consumed during the explosion. Little Boy
Little Boy
"Little Boy" was the codename of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 by the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay, piloted by Colonel Paul Tibbets of the 393rd Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, of the United States Army Air Forces. It was the first atomic bomb to be used as a weapon...

 had an efficiency of only 1.4%. Fat Man
Fat Man
"Fat Man" is the codename for the atomic bomb that was detonated over Nagasaki, Japan, by the United States on August 9, 1945. It was the second of the only two nuclear weapons to be used in warfare to date , and its detonation caused the third man-made nuclear explosion. The name also refers more...

, which used a different design and a different fissile
Fissile
In nuclear engineering, a fissile material is one that is capable of sustaining a chain reaction of nuclear fission. By definition, fissile materials can sustain a chain reaction with neutrons of any energy. The predominant neutron energy may be typified by either slow neutrons or fast neutrons...

 material, had an efficiency of 14%. Thus, they tended to disperse large amounts of unused fissile material, and the fission product
Fission product
Nuclear fission products are the atomic fragments left after a large atomic nucleus fissions. Typically, a large nucleus like that of uranium fissions by splitting into two smaller nuclei, along with a few neutrons and a large release of energy in the form of heat , gamma rays and neutrinos. The...

s, which are on average much more dangerous, in the form of nuclear fallout
Nuclear fallout
Fallout is the residual radioactive material propelled into the upper atmosphere following a nuclear blast, so called because it "falls out" of the sky after the explosion and shock wave have passed. It commonly refers to the radioactive dust and ash created when a nuclear weapon explodes...

. During the 1950s, there was considerable debate over whether "clean" bombs could be produced and these were often contrasted with "dirty" bombs. "Clean" bombs were often a stated goal and scientists and administrators said that high-efficiency nuclear weapon design
Nuclear weapon design
Nuclear weapon designs are physical, chemical, and engineering arrangements that cause the physics package of a nuclear weapon to detonate. There are three basic design types...

 could create explosions which generated almost all of their energy in the form of nuclear fusion
Nuclear fusion
Nuclear fusion is the process by which two or more atomic nuclei join together, or "fuse", to form a single heavier nucleus. This is usually accompanied by the release or absorption of large quantities of energy...

, which does not create harmful fission products.

But the Castle Bravo
Castle Bravo
Castle Bravo was the code name given to the first U.S. test of a dry fuel thermonuclear hydrogen bomb device, detonated on March 1, 1954 at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, as the first test of Operation Castle. Castle Bravo was the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the United States ,...

accident of 1954, in which a thermonuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon design
Nuclear weapon designs are physical, chemical, and engineering arrangements that cause the physics package of a nuclear weapon to detonate. There are three basic design types...

 produced a large amount of fallout which was dispersed among human populations, suggested that this was not what was actually being used in modern thermonuclear weapons, which derive around half of their yield from a final fission stage. While some proposed producing "clean" weapons, other theorists noted that one could make a nuclear weapon intentionally "dirty" by "salting" it with a material, which would generate large amounts of long-lasting fallout when irradiated
Irradiation
Irradiation is the process by which an object is exposed to radiation. The exposure can originate from various sources, including natural sources. Most frequently the term refers to ionizing radiation, and to a level of radiation that will serve a specific purpose, rather than radiation exposure to...

 by the weapon core. These are known as salted bomb
Salted bomb
A salted bomb is a variation of a nuclear weapon designed to produce enhanced quantities of radioactive fallout, rendering a large area uninhabitable...

s; a specific subtype often noted is a cobalt bomb
Cobalt bomb
A cobalt bomb is a theoretical type of "salted bomb": a nuclear weapon intended to contaminate an area by radioactive material, with a relatively small blast....

.

Dirty bombs and terrorism


See: Nuclear terrorism
Nuclear terrorism
Nuclear terrorism denotes the use, or threat of the use, of nuclear weapons or radiological weapons in acts of terrorism, includingattacks against facilities where radioactive materials are present...



Since the 9/11 attacks the fear of terrorist groups using dirty bombs has increased significantly, which has been frequently reported in the media. The meaning of terrorism used here, is described by the U.S. Department of Defense's definition, which is "the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological objectives".
There have only ever been two cases of caesium-containing bombs, and neither was detonated. Both involved Chechnya
Chechnya
The Chechen Republic , commonly referred to as Chechnya , also spelled Chechnia or Chechenia, sometimes referred to as Ichkeria , is a federal subject of Russia . It is located in the southeastern part of Europe in the Northern Caucasus mountains. The capital of the republic is the city of Grozny...

. The first attempt of radiological terror was carried out in November 1995 by a group of Chechen
Chechen people
Chechens constitute the largest native ethnic group originating in the North Caucasus region. They refer to themselves as Noxçi . Also known as Sadiks , Gargareans, Malkhs...

 separatists, who buried a caesium-137
Caesium-137
Caesium-137 is a radioactive isotope of caesium which is formed as a fission product by nuclear fission.It has a half-life of about 30.17 years, and decays by beta emission to a metastable nuclear isomer of barium-137: barium-137m . Caesium-137 is a radioactive isotope of caesium which is formed...

 source wrapped in explosives at the Izmaylovsky Park
Izmaylovsky Park
Izmaylovsky Park or Izmaylovo Park is one of the largest parks in Moscow, Russia, situated in the Izmaylovo District of the city. The park was inaugurated in 1930, and was known as Stalin Park until it changed its name in the 1950s...

 in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

. A Chechen rebel leader alerted the media, the bomb was never activated, and the incident amounted to a mere publicity stunt
Publicity stunt
A publicity stunt is a planned event designed to attract the public's attention to the event's organizers or their cause. Publicity stunts can be professionally organized or set up by amateurs...

.

In December 1998, a second attempt was announced by the Chechen Security Service, who discovered a container filled with radioactive materials attached to an explosive mine. The bomb was hidden near a railway line in the suburban area Argun
Argun, Chechen Republic
Argun is a town in the Chechen Republic, Russia, located on the Argun River. Population: 22,000 ....

, ten miles east of the Chechen capital of Grozny
Grozny
Grozny is the capital city of the Chechen Republic, Russia. The city lies on the Sunzha River. According to the preliminary results of the 2010 Census, the city had a population of 271,596; up from 210,720 recorded in the 2002 Census. but still only about two-thirds of 399,688 recorded in the 1989...

. The same Chechen separatist group was suspected to be involved.
Despite the increased fear of a dirty bombing attack, it is hard to assess whether the actual risk of such an event has increased significantly. The following discussions on implications, effects and probability of an attack, as well as indications of terror groups planning such, are based mainly on statistics
Statistics
Statistics is the study of the collection, organization, analysis, and interpretation of data. It deals with all aspects of this, including the planning of data collection in terms of the design of surveys and experiments....

, qualified guessing and a few comparable scenarios.

Effect of a dirty bomb explosion


When dealing with the implications of a dirty bomb attack, there are two main areas to be addressed: (i) the civilian
Civilian
A civilian under international humanitarian law is a person who is not a member of his or her country's armed forces or other militia. Civilians are distinct from combatants. They are afforded a degree of legal protection from the effects of war and military occupation...

 impact, not only dealing with immediate casualties and long term health issues, but also the psychological effect and then (ii) 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 RDDs will neither sicken nor kill many people.

Accidents with radioactives


The effects of uncontrolled radioactive contamination
Radioactive contamination
Radioactive contamination, also called radiological contamination, is radioactive substances on surfaces, or within solids, liquids or gases , where their presence is unintended or undesirable, or the process giving rise to their presence in such places...

 have been reported several times.
One example is the radiological accident
Goiânia accident
The Goiânia accident was a radioactive contamination accident that occurred on September 13, 1987, at Goiânia, in the Brazilian State of Goiás after an old radiotherapy source was taken from an abandoned hospital site in the city...

 occurring in Goiânia
Goiânia
-Climate:The city has a tropical wet and dry climate with an average temperature of . There's a wet season, from October to April, and a dry one, from May to September. Annual rainfall is around 1,520 mm....

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, between September 1987 and March 1988: Two metal scavengers broke into an abandoned radiotherapy clinic and removed a teletherapy source capsule containing powdered caesium-137 with an activity of 50 T Bq. They brought it back to the home of one of the men to take it apart and sell as scrap metal. Later that day both men were showing acute signs of radiation illness with vomiting
Vomiting
Vomiting is the forceful expulsion of the contents of one's stomach through the mouth and sometimes the nose...

 and one of the men had a swollen hand and diarrhea
Diarrhea
Diarrhea , also spelled diarrhoea, is the condition of having three or more loose or liquid bowel movements per day. It is a common cause of death in developing countries and the second most common cause of infant deaths worldwide. The loss of fluids through diarrhea can cause dehydration and...

. A few days later one of the men punctured the 1 mm thick window of the capsule, allowing the caesium chloride
Caesium chloride
Caesium chloride is the inorganic compound with the formula CsCl. This colorless solid is an important source of caesium ions in a variety of applications. Its crystal structure forms a major structural type where each caesium ion is coordinated by 8 chlorine ions...

 powder to leak out and when realizing the powder glowed blue in the dark, brought it back home to his family and friends to show it off. After 2 weeks of spread by contact contamination causing an increasing number of adverse health effects, the correct diagnosis of acute radiation sickness
Radiation Sickness
Radiation Sickness is a VHS by the thrash metal band Nuclear Assault. The video is a recording of a concert at the Hammersmith Odeon, London in 1988. It was released in 1991...

 was made at a hospital and proper precautions could be put into procedure. By this time 249 people were contaminated, 151 exhibited both external and internal contamination of which 20 people were seriously ill and 5 people died.

The Goiânia incident to some extent predicts the contamination pattern if it is not immediately realized that the explosion spread radioactive material, but also how fatal even very small amounts of ingested radioactive powder can be. This raises worries of terrorists using powdered alpha
Alpha particle
Alpha particles consist of two protons and two neutrons bound together into a particle identical to a helium nucleus, which is classically produced in the process of alpha decay, but may be produced also in other ways and given the same name...

 emitting material, that if ingested can pose a serious health risk, as in the case of deceased former K.G.B. spy Alexander Litvinenko
Alexander Litvinenko
Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko was an officer who served in the Soviet KGB and its Russian successor, the Federal Security Service ....

, who either ate, drank or inhaled polonium-210. "Smoky bombs" based on alpha emitters might easily be just as dangerous as beta
Beta particle
Beta particles are high-energy, high-speed electrons or positrons emitted by certain types of radioactive nuclei such as potassium-40. The beta particles emitted are a form of ionizing radiation also known as beta rays. The production of beta particles is termed beta decay...

 or gamma
Gamma ray
Gamma radiation, also known as gamma rays or hyphenated as gamma-rays and denoted as γ, is electromagnetic radiation of high frequency . Gamma rays are usually naturally produced on Earth by decay of high energy states in atomic nuclei...

 emitting dirty bombs.

Public perception of risks


For the majority involved in an RDD incident, the radiation health risks (i.e. increased probability of developing cancer later in life due to radiation exposure) are small, comparable to the health risk from smoking five packages of cigarettes on a daily basis. The fear of radiation is not always logical. Although the exposure might be minimal, many people find radiation exposure especially frightening because it is something they cannot see or feel, and it therefore becomes an unknown source of danger. Dealing with public fear may prove the greatest challenge in case of an RDD event. Policy, science and media may inform the public about the real danger and thus reduce the possible psychological and economic effects.

Statements from the U.S. government after 9/11 may have contributed unnecessarily to the public fear of a dirty bomb. When United States Attorney General
United States Attorney General
The United States Attorney General is the head of the United States Department of Justice concerned with legal affairs and is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States government. The attorney general is considered to be the chief lawyer of the U.S. government...

 John Ashcroft
John Ashcroft
John David Ashcroft is a United States politician who served as the 79th United States Attorney General, from 2001 until 2005, appointed by President George W. Bush. Ashcroft previously served as the 50th Governor of Missouri and a U.S...

 on June 10, 2002, announced the arrest of José Padilla, allegedly plotting to detonate such a weapon, he said:
This public fear of radiation also plays a big role in why the costs of an RDD impact on a major metropolitan area (such as lower Manhattan) might be equal to or even larger than that of the 9/11 attacks. Assuming the radiation levels are not too high and the area does not need to be abandoned such as the town of Pripyat near the Chernobyl
Chernobyl
Chernobyl or Chornobyl is an abandoned city in northern Ukraine, in Kiev Oblast, near the border with Belarus. The city had been the administrative centre of the Chernobyl Raion since 1932....

 reactor, an expensive and time consuming cleanup procedure will begin. This will mainly consist of tearing down highly contaminated buildings, digging up contaminated soil and quickly applying sticky substances to remaining surfaces to adhere the radioactive particles before radioactivity penetrates the building materials. These procedures are the current state of the art for radioactive contamination
Radioactive contamination
Radioactive contamination, also called radiological contamination, is radioactive substances on surfaces, or within solids, liquids or gases , where their presence is unintended or undesirable, or the process giving rise to their presence in such places...

 cleanup, but some experts say that a complete cleanup of external surfaces in an urban area to current decontamination limits may not be technically feasible. Loss of working hours will be vast during cleanup, but even after the radiation levels reduce to an acceptable level, there might be residual public fear of the site including possible unwillingness to conduct business as usual in the area. Tourist traffic
Tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

 is likely never to resume.

Constructing and obtaining material for a dirty bomb


In order for a terrorist organization to construct and detonate a dirty bomb, they must acquire radioactive material by stealing it or buying it through legal or illegal channels. Possible RDD material could come from the millions of radioactive sources used worldwide in the industry, for medical purposes and in academic applications mainly for research. Of these sources, only nine reactor produced isotope
Isotope
Isotopes are variants of atoms of a particular chemical element, which have differing numbers of neutrons. Atoms of a particular element by definition must contain the same number of protons but may have a distinct number of neutrons which differs from atom to atom, without changing the designation...

s stand out as being suitable for radiological terror: americium-241, californium-252, caesium-137
Caesium-137
Caesium-137 is a radioactive isotope of caesium which is formed as a fission product by nuclear fission.It has a half-life of about 30.17 years, and decays by beta emission to a metastable nuclear isomer of barium-137: barium-137m . Caesium-137 is a radioactive isotope of caesium which is formed...

, cobalt-60
Cobalt-60
Cobalt-60, , is a synthetic radioactive isotope of cobalt. Due to its half-life of 5.27 years, is not found in nature. It is produced artificially by neutron activation of . decays by beta decay to the stable isotope nickel-60...

, iridium-192, plutonium-238
Plutonium-238
-External links:**...

, polonium-210, radium-226 and strontium-90
Strontium-90
Strontium-90 is a radioactive isotope of strontium, with a half-life of 28.8 years.-Radioactivity:Natural strontium is nonradioactive and nontoxic, but 90Sr is a radioactivity hazard...

, and even from these it is possible that radium-226 and polonium-210 do not pose a significant threat. Of these sources the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is an independent agency of the United States government that was established by the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 from the United States Atomic Energy Commission, and was first opened January 19, 1975...

 has estimated that within the U.S., approximately one source is lost, abandoned or stolen every day of the year. Within the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 the annual estimate is 70. There exist thousands of such "orphan" sources scattered throughout the world, but of those reported lost, no more than an estimated 20 percent can be classified as a potential high security concern if used in a RDD. Especially Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 is believed to house thousands of orphan sources, which were lost following the collapse of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. A large but unknown number of these sources probably belong to the high security risk category. Noteworthy are the Russian very strong beta emitting strontium-90 sources used as radioisotope thermoelectric generator
Radioisotope thermoelectric generator
A radioisotope thermoelectric generator is an electrical generator that obtains its power from radioactive decay. In such a device, the heat released by the decay of a suitable radioactive material is converted into electricity by the Seebeck effect using an array of thermocouples.RTGs can be...

s for beacon
Beacon
A beacon is an intentionally conspicuous device designed to attract attention to a specific location.Beacons can also be combined with semaphoric or other indicators to provide important information, such as the status of an airport, by the colour and rotational pattern of its airport beacon, or of...

s in lighthouses in remote areas. In December 2001, three Georgian
Georgians
The Georgians are an ethnic group that have originated in Georgia, where they constitute a majority of the population. Large Georgian communities are also present throughout Russia, European Union, United States, and South America....

 woodcutters stumbled over such a power generator and dragged it back to their camp site to use it as a heat source. Within hours they suffered from acute radiation sickness and sought hospital treatment. The International Atomic Energy Agency
International Atomic Energy Agency
The International Atomic Energy Agency is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957...

 (IAEA) later stated that it contained approximately 40 kCi of strontium, equivalent to the amount of radiation released immediately after the Chernobyl accident
Chernobyl disaster
The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident that occurred on 26 April 1986 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine , which was under the direct jurisdiction of the central authorities in Moscow...

 (though the total radiation release from Chernobyl was 2500 times greater at around 100 MCi).

Although a terrorist organization might obtain radioactive material through the "black market", and there has been a steady increase in illicit trafficking of radioactive sources from 1996 to 2004, these recorded trafficking incidents mainly refer to rediscovered orphan sources without any sign of criminal activity, and it has been argued that there is no conclusive evidence for such a market. In addition to the hurdles of obtaining usable radioactive material, there are several conflicting requirements regarding the properties of the material the terrorists need to take into consideration: First, the source should be "sufficiently" radioactive to create direct radiological damage at the explosion or at least to perform societal damage or disruption. Second, the source should be transportable with enough shielding to protect the carrier, but not so much that it will be too heavy to maneuver. Third, the source should be sufficiently dispersible to effectively contaminate the area around the explosion.

An example of a worst case scenario is a terror organization possessing a source of very highly radioactive material, e.g. a strontium-90 thermal generator, with the ability to create an incident comparable to the Chernobyl accident. Although the detonation of a dirty bomb using such a source might seem terrifying, it would be hard to assemble the bomb and transport it without severe radiation damage and possible death of the perpetrators involved. Shielding the source effectively would make it almost impossible to transport and a lot less effective if detonated.

Due to the three constraints of making a dirty bomb, RDDs might still be defined as "high-tech" weapons and this is probably why they have not been used up to now.

Possibility of terrorist groups using dirty bombs


The present assessment of the possibility of terrorists using a dirty bomb is based on cases involving one terrorist organization, namely Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

. This is because the attempts by this group to acquire a dirty bomb are the most well-described in the literature, in part due to the attention this group received for their involvement in the 9/11 attacks.

On 8 May 2002, José Padilla (a.k.a. Abdulla al-Muhajir) was arrested on suspicion that he was an Al-Qaeda terrorist planning to detonate a dirty bomb in the U.S. This suspicion was raised by information obtained from an arrested top Al-Qaeda official in U.S. custody, Abu Zubaydah
Abu Zubaydah
Abu Zubaydah is a Saudi Arabian citizen, sentenced to death in Jordan and currently held in U.S. custody in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.Not neutral: Arrested in Pakistan in March 2002, he has been in US custody for more than eight years, four-and-a-half of them spent incommunicado in solitary confinement...

, who under interrogation revealed that the organization was close to constructing a dirty bomb. Although Padilla had not obtained radioactive material or explosives at the time of arrest, law enforcement authorities uncovered evidence that he was on reconnaissance for usable radioactive material and possible locations for detonation. It has been doubted whether José Padilla was preparing such an attack, and it has been claimed that the arrest was highly politically motivated, given the pre-9/11 security lapses by the CIA and FBI.

Later, these charges against José Padilla were dropped. Although there was no hard evidence for Al-Qaeda possessing a dirty bomb, there is a broad agreement that Al-Qaeda poses a potential dirty bomb attack threat because they need to overcome the alleged image that the U.S. and its allies are winning the war against terror
War on Terror
The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

. A further concern is the argument, that "if suicide bombers are prepared to die flying airplanes into building, it is also conceivable that they are prepared to forfeit their lives building dirty bombs". If this would be the case, both the cost and complexity of any protective systems needed to allow the perpetrator to survive long enough to both build the bomb and carry out the attack, would be significantly reduced.

Several other captives were alleged to have played a role in this plot.
Guantanamo captive Binyam Mohammed has alleged he was subjected to extraordinary rendition
Extraordinary rendition
Extraordinary rendition is the abduction and illegal transfer of a person from one nation to another. "Torture by proxy" is used by some critics to describe situations in which the United States and the United Kingdom have transferred suspected terrorists to other countries in order to torture the...

, and that his confession of a role in the plot was coerced through torture.
He sought access through the American and United Kingdom legal systems to evidence he was tortured.
Guantanamo military commission
Guantanamo military commission
The Guantanamo military commissions are military tribunals created by the Military Commissions Act of 2006 for prosecuting detainees held in the United States Guantanamo Bay detainment camps.- History :...

 prosecutors continue to maintain the plot was real, and charged Binyam for his alleged role in 2008. However they dropped this charge in October 2008, but maintain they could prove the charge and were only dropping the charge to expedite proceedings.
US District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan
Emmet G. Sullivan
Emmet G. Sullivan is a US District Court Judge in Washington, D.C.Judge Emmet G. Sullivan was born in Washington, D.C. and attended public schools in the District of Columbia until his graduation from McKinley High School in 1964...

 insisted that the administration still had to hand over the evidence that justified the dirty bomb charge, and admonished United States Department of Justice
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 lawyers that dropping the charge:
"raises serious questions in this court's mind about whether those allegations were ever true."


In 2006, Dhiren Barot
Dhiren Barot
Dhiren Barot is a convicted terrorist from the United Kingdom.-Background:...

 from North London pleaded guilty of conspiring to murder innocent people within the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 using a radioactive dirty bomb. He planned to target underground car parks within the UK and buildings in the U.S. such as the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

, World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

 buildings in Washington D.C., the New York Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange
The New York Stock Exchange is a stock exchange located at 11 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan, New York City, USA. It is by far the world's largest stock exchange by market capitalization of its listed companies at 13.39 trillion as of Dec 2010...

, Citigroup
Citigroup
Citigroup Inc. or Citi is an American multinational financial services corporation headquartered in Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States. Citigroup was formed from one of the world's largest mergers in history by combining the banking giant Citicorp and financial conglomerate...

 buildings and the Prudential Financial
Prudential Financial
The Prudential Insurance Company of America , also known as Prudential Financial, Inc., is a Fortune Global 500 and Fortune 500 company whose subsidiaries provide insurance, investment management, and other financial products and services to both retail and institutional customers throughout the...

 buildings in Newark, New Jersey
Newark, New Jersey
Newark is the largest city in the American state of New Jersey, and the seat of Essex County. As of the 2010 United States Census, Newark had a population of 277,140, maintaining its status as the largest municipality in New Jersey. It is the 68th largest city in the U.S...

. He also faces 12 other charges including, conspiracy
Conspiracy (crime)
In the criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to break the law at some time in the future, and, in some cases, with at least one overt act in furtherance of that agreement...

 to commit public nuisance
Public nuisance
In English criminal law, public nuisance is a class of common law offence in which the injury, loss or damage is suffered by the local community as a whole rather than by individual victims.-Discussion:...

, seven charges of making a record of information for terrorist purposes and four charges of possessing a record of information for terrorist purposes. Experts say if the plot to use the dirty bomb was carried out "it would have been unlikely to cause deaths, but was designed to affect about 500 people."

In January 2009, a leaked FBI report described the results of a search of the Maine home of James G. Cummings, a white supremacist
White supremacy
White supremacy is the belief, and promotion of the belief, that white people are superior to people of other racial backgrounds. The term is sometimes used specifically to describe a political ideology that advocates the social and political dominance by whites.White supremacy, as with racial...

 who had been shot and killed by his wife. Investigators found four one-gallon containers of 35 percent hydrogen peroxide, uranium, thorium, lithium metal, aluminum powder, beryllium
Beryllium
Beryllium is the chemical element with the symbol Be and atomic number 4. It is a divalent element which occurs naturally only in combination with other elements in minerals. Notable gemstones which contain beryllium include beryl and chrysoberyl...

, boron, black iron oxide and magnesium as well as literature on how to build dirty bombs and information about cesium-137, strontium-90 and cobalt-60, radioactive materials. Officials confirmed the veracity of the report but stated that the public was never at risk.

In April 2009, the Security Service of Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 announced the arrest of a legislator and two businessmen from the Ternopil Oblast
Ternopil Oblast
Ternopil Oblast is an oblast' of Ukraine. Its administrative center is Ternopil, through which flows the Seret River, a tributary of the Dnister.-Geography:...

. Seized in the undercover sting operation
Sting operation
In law enforcement, a sting operation is a deceptive operation designed to catch a person committing a crime. A typical sting will have a law-enforcement officer or cooperative member of the public play a role as criminal partner or potential victim and go along with a suspect's actions to gather...

 was 3.7 kilograms of what was claimed by the suspects during the sale as plutonium-239
Plutonium-239
Plutonium-239 is an isotope of plutonium. Plutonium-239 is the primary fissile isotope used for the production of nuclear weapons, although uranium-235 has also been used and is currently the secondary isotope. Plutonium-239 is also one of the three main isotopes demonstrated usable as fuel in...

, used mostly in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons, but was determined by experts to likely be americium
Americium
Americium is a synthetic element that has the symbol Am and atomic number 95. This transuranic element of the actinide series is located in the periodic table below the lanthanide element europium, and thus by analogy was named after another continent, America.Americium was first produced in 1944...

, a "widely used" radioactive material which is commonly used in amounts of less than 1 milligram in smoke detector
Smoke detector
A smoke detector is a device that detects smoke, typically as an indicator of fire. Commercial, industrial, and mass residential devices issue a signal to a fire alarm system, while household detectors, known as smoke alarms, generally issue a local audible and/or visual alarm from the detector...

s, but can also be used in a dirty bomb. The suspects reportedly wanted US$
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

 10 million for the material, which the Security Service determined was produced in Russia during the era of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and smuggled into Ukraine through a neighboring country.

See also


  • Lists of nuclear disasters and radioactive incidents
  • Area denial weapons
    Area denial weapons
    An area denial weapon is a device used to prevent an adversary from occupying or traversing an area of land. The specific method used does not have to be totally effective in preventing passage as long as it is sufficient to severely restrict, slow down, or endanger the opponent...

  • Nuclear warfare
    Nuclear warfare
    Nuclear warfare, or atomic warfare, is a military conflict or political strategy in which nuclear weaponry is detonated on an opponent. Compared to conventional warfare, nuclear warfare can be vastly more destructive in range and extent of damage...

  • Nuclear weapon
    Nuclear weapon
    A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

  • Radiation hormesis
    Radiation hormesis
    Radiation hormesis is the hypothesis that low doses of ionizing radiation are beneficial, stimulating the activation of repair mechanisms that protect against disease, that are not activated in absence of ionizing radiation...

  • Radiation poisoning
    Radiation poisoning
    Acute radiation syndrome also known as radiation poisoning, radiation sickness or radiation toxicity, is a constellation of health effects which occur within several months of exposure to high amounts of ionizing radiation...

  • Nuclear terrorism
    Nuclear terrorism
    Nuclear terrorism denotes the use, or threat of the use, of nuclear weapons or radiological weapons in acts of terrorism, includingattacks against facilities where radioactive materials are present...

  • Nuclear weapon design
    Nuclear weapon design
    Nuclear weapon designs are physical, chemical, and engineering arrangements that cause the physics package of a nuclear weapon to detonate. There are three basic design types...

  • Depleted uranium
    Depleted uranium
    Depleted uranium is uranium with a lower content of the fissile isotope U-235 than natural uranium . Uses of DU take advantage of its very high density of 19.1 g/cm3...

  • Gammator
    Gammator
    A Gammator was a gamma irradiator made by the Radiation Machinery Corporation during the U.S. Atoms for Peace project of the 1950s and 1960s. The gammator was distributed by the "Atomic Energy Commission to schools, hospitals, and private firms to promote nuclear understanding." Around 120-140...

  • 1968 Thule Air Base B-52 crash
  • German nuclear energy project
    German nuclear energy project
    The German nuclear energy project, , was an attempted clandestine scientific effort led by Germany to develop and produce the atomic weapons during the events involving the World War II...



External links