Radioactive Fog of War

What advantage would there be for the Russians to set off a dirty bomb on Ukranian soil? The bombs are chemical explosions, not nuclear and not very effective antipersonnel weapons and are useless to take out strategic targets. They are a terror weapon, the terror dependent on a public frightened to death about the dangers of radiation. Radiation is readily detected and people in highly radioactive areas can be evacuated before their exposure reaches dangerous levels. In areas with low level radiation, evacuation is actually more dangerous than the increased radioactivity.

Depending on the radioisotopes used, the radioactivity may last for days or years and contaminate growing crops. Radioactive dust can be swept down rivers or blown away in the wind. The more radioactive the isotopes, the shorter their half-lives. The radioactivity released by an iodine-131 dirty bomb with a half-life of 8 days will have dropped by 1000 times in 80 days. A cobalt-60 bomb with a half-life of 5 years will take 50 years to drop 1000 times. A bomb made with spent reactor fuel would be radioactive for 1000s of years but the most long lived weakly radioactive isotopes remain as solids in the dust. Most of the volatiles that form radioactive gases have shorter half-lives.

What dirty bombs can do is to deny territory to the enemy yet they are not even that effective at doing that. Properly equipped soldiers in troop carriers and with respirators and coveralls can penetrate radioactive areas for minutes or hours or days depending on radiation levels.

So one has to ask what advantage to the Russians to set off a dirty bomb? Enrage the Ukrainian population so they fight harder? Set off outrage across the world? Give an excuse for NATO to join the fight? I’m pretty sure the chess playing Ruskies would quickly conclude that there are no upsides to detonating a dirty bomb. It would be like poking a bear in the eye.

There are, however, upsides for the Ukrainians for blowing up a dirty bomb on their soil. The bomb would not be that lethal; no one would die in the first weeks unless they were too close to the detonation and few would die months or years after the event. Advantageously, the bomb would be seen as a barbaric war crime and the world would quickly condemn the Russians. Public support for the Ukrainian cause would surge, more money, more weapons and a great excuse to send in NATO. And all that just in time to cancel the US election. Win, win!

WW III Update: Warnings of Possible Dirty Nuclear Bomb Attack in Ukraine

Russian authorities warned on Sunday that Ukraine plans to detonate a dirty nuclear bomb on its own territory in order to provoke World War III.

Would this surprise anyone?

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Especially after two Russian pipelines to Europe have been sabotaged in the past month?

US troops on the Ukraine-Romanian border are training in “combat deployment.” They are preparing for a possible invasion.

The US slammed the Russian “dirty bomb” claims today.

NDTV reported:

A senior US official on Sunday dismissed Russian claims that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb as “transparently false,” while the Pentagon chief “rejected any pretext for Russian escalation.”

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made the allegation about a dirty bomb in a round of telephone conversations with Western defense chiefs.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sharply denounced it, calling the allegation a Russian pretext for just such an attack. “The world should react as harshly as possible,” he said.

A statement Sunday from US National Security Council spokeswoman, Adrienne Watson said, “We reject reports of Minister Shoigu’s transparently false allegations that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb on its own territory.

“The world would see through any attempt to use this allegation as a pretext for escalation.”

Read the rest here.

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