A device utilizing conventional explosive materials, such as TNT or dynamite,
to disperse radioactive material over a wide area, thereby contaminating the
area. This is in contrast to a nuclear weapon, which relies on a nuclear-fission
reaction to generate an extremely powerful explosive blast (although the term
was originally coined for nuclear weapons that caused excessive contamination).
The destructiveness of a dirty bomb would depend primarily upon the force of
the conventional explosion. However, the resulting radioactive contamination
would potentially make the area useless, or at the least cause people to panic.
Manufacturing a dirty bomb is not significantly more complex than
manufacturing a conventional
bomb, and many types of radioactive materials could be used. Weapons-grade materials
or spent nuclear fuel would cause the most significant contamination, but even
medical supplies, such as radium, could be used. While this type of weapon has
little traditional military use, it has the potential to serve well as a weapon