Article

Ukraine almost created a dirty nuclear bomb

Written by The Frontier Post

Sergey Savchuk

In the kaleidoscope of thundering and sparkling events of the past tense day, the message that Russian troops took control of the territory of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was lost. And in vain, because it is perhaps even more important than reports from the battlefields.
Just before the start of the military operation to force Ukraine to peace, Vladimir Putin uttered the key phrase , the meaning of which was that Russia cannot allow Ukraine to re-acquire even tactical nuclear weapons and that Kiev is literally one step away from its creation. It was this emphasis, against the backdrop of a chronicle of the advance of the LDNR army and groups of the Russian army, that immediately fell out of everyone’s attention, although the president has never been seen in empty talk at the helm of the state in two decades. What is the notorious dirty nuclear bomb and how likely is it to appear in the Russophobic hands of the Kiev authorities? Let’s try to figure it out. First, let’s define terms.
It’s hard to believe, but the very term and concept of the so-called dirty bomb was coined by the then little-known science fiction writer Robert Heinlein, who was fond of physics in his spare time from writing. Heinlein formulated the idea itself back in 1940, that is, three years before the launch of the well-known Manhattan Project, while the writer’s intuition was so strong that it suggested to him an alternative and most interesting option for us to use atomic energy.
The fact is that a classic nuclear charge has a monstrous destructive power, but the effect of using such a weapon is relatively short-lived. Yes, indeed, extremely dangerous isotopes are formed during a nuclear explosion, including strontium-89, strontium-90, cesium-137, zinc-64 and tantalum-181. These isotopes, when they enter the body, accumulate there, causing severe and often incurable diseases. For example, radioactive iodine accumulates in the thyroid gland, cesium in the muscles, strontium in the bones, and so on. At the same time, the affected area of ??a nuclear explosion denuclearizes quite quickly, that is, it actively loses radioactivity. Examples include Hiroshima and Nagasaki ., the only cities in the history of mankind that were subjected to nuclear bombing. In the mass consciousness, the impression was that a scorched desert remained in their place for many decades, which is not at all the case. Already in August 1949, a law called the Hiroshima Peace Memorial City Construction Law was passed, which gave an immediate start to the full restoration of the city. That is, a little more than four years have passed since the launch of the nuclear strike.
The principle of operation of a dirty bomb is different, and it was he who was able to predict the science fiction writer mentioned above. This type of ammunition is much simpler in its design and does not require complex technical solutions. In fact, this is just a delivery vehicle (rocket, bomb or artillery shell) to which a container with a radioactive filler is attached. One of the potentially most powerful and therefore dangerous applications in general involves simply spraying radioactive dust from an aircraft or any other aircraft. Hazardous isotopes with a long half-life settle on the surface of the earth, plants, and then fall into the soil and aquifers, making this area dangerous for living for many decades. For a person to develop radiation sickness, it is enough to receive a radiation dose of only one sievert (Sv),
The question of the possibility of Ukraine, which, within the framework of the Budapest Memorandum, renounced nuclear missile weapons, of a dirty bomb was repeatedly considered by various experts . Most of them agreed that this was not possible for a number of reasons. First, for political reasons: the collective West, even in the strongest fit of Russophobia, will not give such a trump card into the hands of the unpredictable Kiev authorities. Secondly, because in Ukraine there are no appropriate technical capabilities, no centrifuge capacity for uranium enrichment and no suitable means of delivery. Let us disagree, especially since our point of view is shared by the president, who has an incomparably greater completeness of information, including data from foreign and scientific and technical intelligence.
We started our today’s conversation with the mention of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, not without reason, as it was not without reason that the units of the Russian army occupied it. In a good way, it would not hurt to mention in the news bulletins at what distance from other nuclear facilities hostilities are taking place and what is happening at the stations themselves. Chernobyl is the only inactive nuclear power plant on the territory of Ukraine, on all the others (Zaporozhye, Rivne, Khmelnytskyand South-Ukrainian) there are technical facilities such as spent fuel storage pools (ISFP). These are special tanks where fuel assemblies (FA) removed from the core are placed and where they are washed with running water for five years. Only after that, according to the regulations, they can be moved to a storage facility, such as, for example, was built in Chernobyl. Fuel cells made of uranium dioxide enriched with gadolinium are located in the pools inside the fuel assemblies.
And here is another important point. Few paid attention to Putin’s little clarification that Ukraine has the potential to create a dirty bomb not alone, but with the assistance of its Western partners.
It is believed that there are no laboratories on the territory of Ukraine that would cope with the task of separating and extracting radioactive filling from fuel assemblies. But this does not mean that they really do not exist, or that one of Kiev’s great friends would not have put everything they needed there. A faster and more radical scenario could theoretically include the direct delivery to Ukraine of a sufficient amount of highly radioactive waste from, say, Turkey or Germany , where the Americans not only keep their nuclear weapons, but also store spent materials.
As for the creation of delivery vehicles, then there is nothing impossible. Legendary in the past, the Yuzhmash plant is indeed going through a period of total decline, while, we recall, for many decades a fairly wide range of products for the space industry, including fuel modules, was produced there. That is, the documentation and some production facilities have probably remained in place, allowing, pardon the term, riveting a case from especially strong metals, where a load of spent nuclear fuel can be placed.
It would not be a matter of means of delivery. If the missiles of their own production “Neptune” had not coped, friends would have plenty of their own, much more powerful and long-range analogues. In the end, nothing prevented the Ukrainian authorities, in a fit of radical Russophobia, from blowing up a radioactive container somewhere in the Chernihiv forests on the border with Russia or bringing it into our border territory. The power of the charge would not be enough to start a chain reaction, but an impressive area would be subjected to an uncontrolled infection.
Again, we are only building versions and assumptions based on publicly available data, and Vladimir Putin, no doubt, operates with much more accurate information. And if the president has identified such a threat among the main ones, then it is so.
We can only be glad that our Western friends managed to pump Ukraine with only conventional types of weapons, without daring to give Kiev a couple of dirty nuclear tips.

About the author

The Frontier Post