RealNews

A Dirty Bomb May Not Kill but It Sure Would Hurt

After Sept. 11, 2001, nuclear experts realized the danger of handling deadly radioactive material would not deter suicidal maniacs who could hijack a plane and ram it into a skyscraper. They asked what would happen if al Qaeda got one of the world’s thousands of lost radioactive sources, attached an explosive like dynamite and exploded it in a major urban center. Britain said in January it had evidence that al Qaeda, widely thought to be behind the attack that toppled New York City’s World Trade Center, had tried to develop such a bomb in the 1990s. Wolfgang Weiss, head of radiation hygiene at Germany’s Federal Office for Radiation Protection, prepared a hypothetical case study to show what would happen if a radiation dispersal device–popularly known as a dirty bomb–exploded in Munich. The results, based on an imaginary bomb made with weapons-grade plutonium placed in Munich’s Olympic Stadium, were superficially reassuring: There would probably be no deaths and the number of severely contaminated victims would be small. Full Story

OODA Analyst

OODA Analyst

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