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A new report claims that radioactive materials stolen from Chernobyl could potentially be used to create a devastating 'dirty bomb'.
Dirty bombs are one of the most feared weapons in terms of the amount of damage they can inflict. Created by mixing nuclear matter with conventional explosives, bombs of this nature contaminate the detonated area long after the initial explosion.
With this in mind, they are highly unpredictable, and extremely difficult to contain, as the radioactive materials travel far and wide in the aftermath.
Using a dirty bomb in a war situation would therefore be highly likely to affect civilians, even if they aren't the intended target.
Russia seized control of the Chernobyl nuclear site shortly after President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Situated in the east of the country, there were fears from the outset that the actions of the Russian forces could lead to a nuclear related catastrophe down the line.
Chernobyl is still an active site following the 1986 disaster, where a reactor exploded, releasing a considerable amount of airborne radioactive contamination. In response, the nearby city of Pripyat was left abandoned, following one of the worst nuclear accidents in history.
The site today is still riddled with radioactivity and while the original nuclear plant has since been sealed by a dome-like structure, concern remains over the conduct of the Russian troops currently present there.
Several experts claim Russian forces cut power to the disaster site since the invasion, and have reportedly impeded efforts to put out fires in the nearby area, though electricity was later restored to the plant.
The perilous situation at Chernobyl shows the danger of a world with more and more nuclear material, much of it reportedly unaccounted for.
“There are a lot of radioactive sources that are not on anyone’s radar,” nuclear security expert Vitaly Fedchenko, at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, told Science.
One can only hope that the ongoing ceasefire talks between both parties have the desired outcome.
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