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U.S., Russian Experts Test 'Dirty Bombs'

In New Mexico’s desert and Russia’s Ural Mountains, U.S. and Russian experts are experimenting with simulated “dirty bombs” to see how such radiation weapons and potential terrorist tools might work, officials of the two countries say. It’s a sensitive area in which some information is withheld to keep clues to bomb-building out of terrorists’ hands. But American and Russian specialists attending a global conference on dirty bombs disclosed some aspects of recent testing to a reporter because, as a ranking U.S. official said, the public should know everything is being done to deal with the threat. These so-called “RDDs,” for radiological dispersal devices, haven’t made an appearance yet, but the al-Qaida terrorist network, for one, is reported to have shown a serious interest in developing them. Dirty bombs would combine conventional explosives with strontium, cesium or some other highly radioactive isotope used for such purposes as cancer radiotherapy, searching for oil deposits and sterilizing food. They wouldn’t cause the immediate mass casualties or devastation of nuclear weapons, but they are much simpler to make and the contamination and fear of radiation poisoning could cause general panic and shut down sections of cities for years. Full Story

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