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Encyclopedia > Radiological weapon
Weapons of mass destruction
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Biological warfare
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Radiological weapons For the Xzibit album, see Weapons of Mass Destruction (album). ... Image File history File links WMD_world_map. ... For the use of biological agents by terrorists, see bioterrorism. ... Chemical warfare is warfare (and associated military operations) using the toxic properties of chemical substances to kill, injure or incapacitate an enemy. ... The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, 1945, rose some 18 kilometers (11 mi) above the hypocenter A nuclear weapon derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions of fusion or fission. ...

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A radiological weapon (or radiological dispersion device, RDD) is any weapon that is designed to spread radioactive material with the intent to kill, and cause disruption upon a city or nation. It is primarily known as a dirty bomb because it is not a true nuclear weapon and does not yield the same destructive power. It uses conventional explosives to spread radioactive material, most commonly the spent fuels from nuclear power plants or radioactive medical waste. The Peoples Republic of China is estimated to have an arsenal of about 400 nuclear weapons stockpiled as of 1999, although this number is questionable because the Chinese government releases little information regarding nuclear weapons other than stating that China possesses the smallest nuclear arsenal amongst the five nuclear... The Republic of China on Taiwan denies having chemical or nuclear weapons. ... Atoms of chemical elements may have many isotopes (different forms) with the same atomic numbers but different atomic weights / atomic mass numbers. ... The term dirty bomb is primarily used to refer to a radiological dispersal device (RDD), a radiological weapon which combines radioactive material with conventional explosives. ... The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, 1945, rose some 18 kilometers (11 mi) above the hypocenter A nuclear weapon derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions of fusion or fission. ... A nuclear power station. ...

Contents

Explanation

Radiological weapons have been suggested as a possible weapon of terrorism used to create panic and casualties in densely populated areas. They could also render a great deal of property useless for an extended period, unless costly remediation was undertaken. The radiological source and quality greatly impacts the effectiveness of a radiological weapon. Generally, remediation means giving a remedy. ...


Factors such as: energy and type of radiation, half-life, size of explosion, availability, shielding, portability, and the role of the environment will determine the effect of the radiological weapon. Radioisotopes that pose the greatest security risk include: 137Cs, used in radiological medical equipment, 60Co, 241Am, 252Cf, 192Ir, 238Pu, 90Sr, and 226Ra. All of these isotopes, except for the latter, are created in nuclear power plants. While the amount of radiation dispersed from the event will likely be minimal, the fact of any radiation may be enough to cause panic and disruption. Half-Life For a quantity subject to exponential decay, the half-life is the time required for the quantity to fall to half of its initial value. ... A radionuclide is an atom with an unstable nucleus. ... Caesium-137 is a radioactive isotope which is formed mainly by nuclear fission. ... Cobalt 60 is a Front 242 side project featuring Front 242s Jean-Luc de Meyer and Dominique Lallement. ... General Name, Symbol, Number americium, Am, 95 Chemical series actinides Group, Period, Block n/a, 7, f Appearance silvery white sometimes yellow Standard atomic weight (243) g·mol−1 Electron configuration [Rn] 5f7 7s2 Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 32, 25, 8, 2 Physical properties Phase solid Density (near... General Name, Symbol, Number californium, Cf, 98 Chemical series actinides Group, Period, Block n/a, 7, f Appearance unknown, probably silvery white or metallic gray Atomic mass (251) g·mol−1 Electron configuration [Rn] 5f10 7s2 Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 32, 28, 8, 2 Physical properties Phase solid... This article is about the chemical element. ... Plutonium 238, is an isotope of plutonium with a half-life of 86. ... General Name, Symbol, Number Strontium, Sr, 38 Series Alkaline earth metal Group, Period, Block 2 (IIA), 5, s Density, Hardness 2630 kg/m3, 1. ... General Name, Symbol, Number radium, Ra, 88 Chemical series alkaline earth metals Group, Period, Block 2, 7, s Appearance silvery white metallic Standard atomic weight (226) g·mol−1 Electron configuration [Rn] 7s2 Electrons per shell 2, 8, 18, 32, 18, 8, 2 Physical properties Phase solid Density (near r. ...


History

The history of radioactive weaponry may be traced to a 1943 memo to Brigadier General Leslie Groves of the Manhattan Project. Transmitting a report entitled, "Use of Radioactive Materials as a Military Weapon," the memo states: Leslie Groves Leslie Richard Groves (August 17, 1896 – July 13, 1970) was a United States Army officer who oversaw the construction of the Pentagon and was the primary military leader in charge of the Manhattan Project to develop the atomic bomb during World War II. Descended from French Huguenots who... This article is about the World War II nuclear project. ...

October 30, 1943 memo from Drs. Conant, Compton, and Urey to Brigadier General L. R. Groves, Manhattan District, Oak Ridge, Tennessee; declassified June 5, 1974
As a gas warfare instrument the material would ... be inhaled by personnel. The amount necessary to cause death to a person inhaling the material is extremely small. It has been estimated that one millionth of a gram accumulating in a person's body would be fatal. There are no known methods of treatment for such a casualty.... It cannot be detected by the senses; It can be distributed in a dust or smoke form so finely powdered that it will permeate a standard gas mask filter in quantities large enough to be extremely damaging....
Radioactive warfare can be used ... To make evacuated areas uninhabitable; To contaminate small critical areas such as rail-road yards and airports; As a radioactive poison gas to create casualties among troops; Against large cities, to promote panic, and create casualties among civilian populations.
Areas so contaminated by radioactive dusts and smokes, would be dangerous as long as a high enough concentration of material could be maintained.... they can be stirred up as a fine dust from the terrain by winds, movement of vehicles or troops, etc., and would remain a potential hazard for a long time.
These materials may also be so disposed as to be taken into the body by ingestion instead of inhalation. Reservoirs or wells would be contaminated or food poisoned with an effect similar to that resulting from inhalation of dust or smoke. Four days production could contaminate a million gallons of water to an extent that a quart drunk in one day would probably result in complete incapacitation or death in about a month's time.

The United States, however, chose not to pursue radiological weapons during World War II, though early on in the project considered it as a backup plan in case nuclear fission proved impossible to tame. Some US policymakers and scientists involved in the project felt that radiological weapons would qualify as chemical weapons and thus violate international law. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (652x846, 33 KB) Summary Memorandum from Drs. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (652x846, 33 KB) Summary Memorandum from Drs. ...


Deployment

One possible way of dispersing the material is by using a “dirty bomb,” a conventional explosive which disperses radioactive material. Dirty bombs are not a type of nuclear weapon, which requires a nuclear chain reaction and the creation of a critical mass. Whereas a nuclear weapon will usually create mass casualties immediately following the blast, a dirty bomb scenario would initially cause only minimal casualties from the conventional explosion. The term dirty bomb is primarily used to refer to a radiological dispersal device (RDD), a radiological weapon which combines radioactive material with conventional explosives. ... The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, 1945, rose some 18 kilometers (11 mi) above the hypocenter A nuclear weapon derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions of fusion or fission. ... A chain reaction is a sequence of reactions where a reactive product or by-product causes additional reactions. ... For other uses of critical mass, see critical mass (disambiguation). ...


Means of radiological warfare that do not rely on any specific weapon, but rather on spreading radioactive contamination via a food chain or water table, seem to be more effective in some ways, but share many of the same problems as chemical warfare. Radiological warfare is any form of warfare involving deliberate radiation poisoning, without relying on nuclear fission or nuclear fusion. ... Food chains, food webs and/or food networks describe the feeding relationships between species to another within an ecosystem. ... Cross section showing the water table varying with surface topography as well as a perched water table The water table or phreatic surface is the surface where the water pressure is equal to atmospheric pressure. ... Chemical warfare is warfare (and associated military operations) using the toxic properties of chemical substances to kill, injure or incapacitate an enemy. ...


Military uses

Radiological weapons are widely considered to be militarily useless for a state-sponsored army and are not believed to have been deployed by any military forces. Firstly, the use of such a weapon is of no use to an occupying force, as the target area becomes uninhabitable. Furthermore, area-denial weapons are generally of limited use to an attacking army, as it slows the rate of advance. Finally, like biological weapons, radiological weapons can take days to act on the opposing force. They therefore not only fail in neutralizing the opposing force instantly, but they also allow time for massive retaliation. Biological warfare, also known as germ warfare, is the use of any organism (bacteria, virus or other disease_causing organism) or toxin found in nature, as a weapon of war. ...


Iraq

Iraq under Saddam Hussein is reported to have tested a radiological weapon in 1987 for use against Iran.[citation needed] This weapon was found to be impractical because the radioactive isotopes in the weapon would decay quickly, rendering it useless within a week after the weapon was manufactured. Furthermore, it was found that for the radioactive material to spread, weather conditions had to be ideal. These problems are in general shared by all forms of air-borne radiological warfare. Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti (28 April 1937 – 30 December 2006) was the fifth President of Iraq and Chairman of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council from 1979 until his overthrow by US forces in 2003. ... For other uses, see Isotope (disambiguation). ...


Damage assessment

There is currently (as of 2007) an ongoing debate about the damage that terrorists using such a weapon might inflict. Many experts believe that such a bomb would be unlikely to harm more than a few people and hence it would be no more deadly than a conventional bomb. Hence, this line of argument goes, the objectively dominant effect would be the moral and economic damage due to the massive fear and panic such an incident would spur. On the other hand, some believe that the fatalities and injuries might be in fact much more severe. This point is, e.g., made by physicists Peter D Zimmerman et al. (King's College London) who reexamined the Goiânia accident which is arguably comparable. (Ref.: Nature Science Update of 5 May 2004) Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era in the 21st century. ... There are very few or no other articles that link to this one. ... For other uses, see Kings College. ... The Goiânia accident was an incident of radioactive contamination in central Brazil that killed several people and injured many others. ...


See also

For the Xzibit album, see Weapons of Mass Destruction (album). ... Dressing the wounded during a gas attack by Austin O. Spare, 1918. ... Biological warfare, also known as germ warfare, is the use of any organism (bacteria, virus or other disease_causing organism) or toxin found in nature, as a weapon of war. ... The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, 1945, rose some 18 kilometers (11 mi) above the hypocenter A nuclear weapon derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions of fusion or fission. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... A magnetic weapon is one that uses magnetic fields to accelerate and propel projectiles, or to focus charged particle beams. ... The radiation warning symbol (trefoil). ... Fallout is the residual radiation hazard from a nuclear explosion, so named because it falls out of the atmosphere into which it is spread during the explosion. ...

External links

  • Radiological Preparedness
  • Annotated bibliography for radiological dispersal devices (RDD) from the Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues
  • Cuger Brant; A VERY DIRTY BUSINESS; thriller: Scenario and effects of ‘Dirty Bomb’ going off in Tunbridge Wells, Kent [1]

  Results from FactBites:
 
Station Information - Radiological weapon (417 words)
A radiological weapon is any weapon that is designed to spread radioactivity, either to kill, or to deny the use of an area (a modern version of salting the earth) and consists of an device (such as a nuclear or conventional explosive) which spreads radioactive material.
Radiological weapons are widely considered to be militarily useless for a state-sponsored army and are not believed to have been deployed by any military forces.
Means of radiological warfare that do not rely on any specific weapon, but rather on spreading radiation poisoning via a food chain or water table, seem to be more effective in some ways, but to share problems with chemical warfare.
Radiological weapon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (569 words)
A radiological weapon (or radiological dispersion device, RDD) is any weapon that is designed to spread radioactive contamination, either to kill, or to deny the use of an area (a modern version of salting the earth) and consists of a device (such as a nuclear or conventional explosive) which spreads radioactive material.
Means of radiological warfare that do not rely on any specific weapon, but rather on spreading radioactive contamination via a food chain or water table, seem to be more effective in some ways, but share many of the same problems as chemical warfare.
They do not require materials used to make a nuclear weapon, and common materials such as caesium-137, used in radiological medical equipment, or Cobalt-60 (both of which have been stolen from nuclear or medical storage in various incidents and are still described as missing) could be used.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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