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dirty bomb

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 of terror.

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