A Russian dirty bomb? Or more dezinformatsiya?

The Daily Beast reports: A stray camera at a meeting of top Russian military leaders has allegedly captured a glimpse of the Kremlin’s possible plan for a bewildering and frightening new weapon — a radiation-scattering “dirty bomb.” One delivered by a drone submarine, which itself rides piggyback on another submarine.

The problem is: We have no way of knowing for sure if this is in fact an existing weapon or simply a media provocation designed to make us think that Russian President Vladimir Putin has got a dangerous new toy in his arsenal. If it’s real, then Russia is the first country we know about to come into possession of a weapon that, while not nearly as destructive as an atomic bomb, could spread lethal radiation over a wide area, rendering it uninhabitable. If the segment is a fake, it’s the latest in a long list of Kremlin media hoaxes.

“It’s true some secret data got into the shot, and it was subsequently deleted,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday about the mysterious footage. “We hope that this won’t repeat.”

The technical aspects of such a device aren’t all that complicated. A dirty bomb is simply any munition containing conventional explosives wrapped in radioactive material. It explodes like any normal munition, but the fragments it scatters are irradiated and thus more dangerous for far longer periods of time than the debris from any standard bomb.

Compared to nuclear weapons, dirty bombs are easy to make — and their use, while highly provocative, is less likely to spark global Armageddon. But they’re still nasty enough that, back in the 1970s, the United States and Russia came pretty close to banning them. [Continue reading…]

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