Israel tests ‘dirty' bombs in fear of enemy attacks – report

Reuters / Amir Cohen
Israel has carried out a series of test detonations to measure the effects of a “dirty” radiological bomb if it were used by “hostile forces,” according to a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Twenty detonation tests were performed involving between 250 grams and 25 kilograms of explosives together with the common radioactive substance known as 99mTc, according to the report.

Most of the dirty bomb detonations were carried out in the southern Negev desert in conjunction with a four-year “Green field” project at the Dimona Nuclear Research Center, the report says.

READ MORE: ISIS claims to have developed dirty bomb – reports

“The research concluded that high-level radiation was measured at the center of the explosions, with a low level of dispersal of radiation by particles carried by the wind,” the report said. “Sources at the reactor said this doesn’t pose a substantial danger beyond the psychological effect.”

The so-called “dirty bomb” combines conventional explosives with, radioactive materials and is not considered to be a nuclear weapon or a weapon of mass destruction.

The daily newspaper added that additional six indoor tests called the “Red House” were conducted to measure the impact of radioactive substance left in a crowded public space. During the experiment a material mixed with water was left in the ventilation system of a two-story building on a Home Front Command base, simulating a shopping mall, according to the report. This test proved to be not effective from the “terrorists’ perspective,” it said.

The four-year experiments were launched in 2010 and the results presented at scientific gatherings and on nuclear science databases. The researchers said that the tests were conducted for defensive purposes.

Terrorists have threatened to use dirty bombs, but those groups have never actually made such an attack. After the 9/11 terrorists attacks and subsequent threats made by Al-Qaeda to use a dirty bomb, Israel has been conducting civil defense drills – its first simulated response to a radioactive dispersal device attack. The Health Ministry issued procedures on how to deal with such an event in 2006.

In December 2014, Islamic State militants – an Al-Qaeda offshoot – claimed to have developed a crude nuclear weapon using materials seized from Mosul University, Iraq, according to UK media reports. These claims have not been verified, however.