Israel Prepares for Dirty Bomb and Other Radiological Weapons
Nuclear weapons haven’t been a prominent threat for decades. Chemical weapons are, but they’ve become easier to spot (ask Syria) and the effects do not wane, affecting those in the vicinity but not beyond. Radioactive weapons such as dirty bombs are a big fear for many mostly because nobody is sure what they will do or how to respond to them.
Israel has concluded a four-year project at the Dimona nuclear reactor to learn what radiological weapons could do and how to clean up to prevent expansion if one were ever used in the tiny country the size of New Jersey. Publicly, the results of their testing showed that it was impractical to use a dirty bomb, a detonation-free stationary radiological weapon, or an airborne radiological weapon. Then again, would they be willing to let the world know otherwise if they discovered that they were effective?
The reality is that this is a big fear for Israel and should be a big fear in the United States and Europe. There is so much fear about Iran, North Korea, and other nations building nuclear bombs, but there’s a problem with this fear. Launching a nuclear weapon would mean utter annihilation for the country that launched. Smaller nuclear weapons delivered through other means such as suitcase bombs are risky and if captured could result in similar repercussions.
Radiological weapons, on the other hand, could be used and would be very hard to trace. In many cases, the affects are not felt immediately. If a ventilation system at a busy location could be radiated, for example, the response in most places would be slow and inadequate. How to handle such a situation is exactly what Israel is trying to determine.
As Haaretz reports:
In 2010, staff from the Dimona nuclear reactor began a series of tests, dubbed the “Green Field” project, designed to measure the consequences of the detonation of a dirty bomb in Israel. The project was concluded in 2014, and its research findings have been presented at scientific gatherings and on nuclear science databases. The researchers explained that the experiments were for defensive purposes and that they were not giving consideration to offensive aspects of the tests.