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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Dirty Bombs

Dirty Bombs

A Dirty Bomb is simply a normal high explosive bomb or shell or grenade or missile warhead that is packed with radioactive elements in addition to the usual high explosives.

The reason for Dirty Bombs is obvious. While conventional high explosives destroy a target, say, a section of a city, the moment the blast is over, the bomb is 'spent' and over; the rescuers can come in immediately to rescue, a year later, the destroyed section can be rebuilt, as Saddam Hussein has rebuilt much of his infrastructure despite sanctions, including war installations and bases, bridges, roads, etc.

But a Dirty Bomb can radiate radioactivity over the next maybe century depending on the radioactive element you use. It is 'for keeps'. In some ways, it is even better than a real nuclear bomb because it doesn't cost billions to develop, years to research, a small army of scientists to R&D, and worse still, practically impossible to use because it is abhorrent to the world; the US nuclear arsenal was never even considered for Vietnam even when the Americans were clearly losing.

But a Dirty Bomb is cheap, simple, quickly developed and very importantly, will not prove abhorrent to the world even if it is used, especially against an aggressor. It deters because if only a handful of Dirty Bombs get to their target, that target is contaminated for up to a century. By raising the stakes, it makes aggressors think 10 times before going to war. It makes Generals think twice before attacking. It can save Asean countries countless billions because it makes war between Asean countries unthinkable. It reduces the need to spend billions in arms races because the stakes are so high.

It is a good answer to atom bombs.

Now for the recipe for a Dirty Bomb.

For every tbsp of high explosives, mix well one tsp of plutonium. Then add a dash of napalm. If you don't have napalm, industrial glue will do. Then pack into the bombshell as normal and use as normal.

There are about a dozen radioactive elements we can use. But buying them, then concentrating them, then grinding them into small sand-sized particles for packing into the bomb is troublesome and costly. We can get plutonium and uranium for free. All countries operating nuclear reactors produce toxic plutonium in the form of spent (but still highly radioactive) fuel rods. They will even pay us to take them off their hands.

For example, Taiwan tried recently to ship some spent fuel rods to North Korea for reprocessing and storage until South Korea objected. Japan spends millions to reprocess its spent fuel rods, mainly by mixing it with tar and concrete in steel drums. All we need do is to 'accept' spent plutonium rods for 'disposal' and these companies will happily ship them to us free and even pay for the privilege.

Plutonium has a sufficiently long half-life for our purposes. We only need a few bombs to explode on target for our enemy's cities to be contaminated for a century. (The napalm or industrial glue is to ensure the radioactive particles are not washed away by the next monsoon rains).

We will need a facility to manufacture, store and safekeep the Dirty Bombs until needed for use. We have many islands off the coast. Simply choose three uninhabited islands or rocky outcrop of about 10 square miles, build the facility to grind, mix and pack the plutonium and high explosives automatically and store them in secure bunkers.

We will also need a helicopter landing pad, airstrips for cargo and warplanes and a jetty for supply ships. For security reasons, the islands should be spread out so that they cannot be destroyed all at one go. The bunkers should be secure against fire, accidents, sabotage by Commandos and the islands themselves should be patrolled round the clock by helicopters and protected by high tech fences, walls, etc.

Of course, never bring any of these Dirty Bombs to the mainland because the constant radiation or accidental explosion is unpleasant. Again, like Atom Bombs, the very fact that we have them is deterrent enough. Even if they don't all work as planned, even one effective Bomb will cause pause in warmongering minds. There is absolutely no danger that a Dirty Bomb will explode like an Atom Bomb because there is no sustained chain reaction to destroy mass and therefore produce energy. But dealing with the radioactivity and the toxicity of plutonium in land or reservoir will cause the aggressive Generals many generations of regret.

If all Asean countries have Dirty Bombs, we'll have unbroken peace. The Asean arms race has been on for several years. I hope this public dissemination of the recipe will render it unnecessary and futile, saving countless billions for the betterment of all our lives.

(Edited from a briefing paper first published around 1997, although the idea was first mooted about 10 years earlier).

Robert HO

Inventor of the Dirty Bomb

Note 21 July 2011:
1. Japan's Fukushima nuclear meltdown disaster is the closest approximation of a Dirty Bomb exploded in a city, except that the Fukushima nuclear plants are well away from the main city. As of the date of this Note, the effects of this Fukushima 'Dirty Bomb' are becoming clear -- and horrific. See google search results for [Fukushima economic effects]:


In which one article search result headlined:

"Fukushima in Japan costs half of its growth in 2011"

2. Clearly, the most devastating part of a Dirty Bomb are its economic effects. Most cities will go bankrupt dealing with the economic effects, which will continue for years. For example, the radioactive particles will seep into the groundwater and turn up as radiation in your tap water when you turn on your tap. Even if your tap is tens of kilometres away from the Dirty Bomb explosion. And it will turn up in your tap water for years.

3. Every year, 100m containers are moved, 42m to Amerika alone. This means that a Dirty Bomb smuggled in a ship or ship container is almost impossible to discover or stop. Once in an enemy country, Dirty Bombs can be kept secret and moved to the most important part of the targetted city and exploded when the time comes. Thus, almost every city is at risk from a secret, hidden Dirty Bomb. Once it explodes, the city goes bankrupt. Thus, the Dirty Bomb is an Economic Bomb. It kills few or hardly any people but it devastates a city's finances.