This is the second in a series of explainers on key moments in the past years of world political history. In it, our authors examine how and why an event unfolded, its impact at the time, and its relevance to politics today. Three days later, on August 9, , the US dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki. These remain the only two instances of nuclear weapons being used in warfare to this day. The second world war commenced in
A dirty bomb or radiological dispersal device is a speculative radiological weapon that combines radioactive material with conventional explosives. It is, however, not to be confused with a nuclear explosion, such as a fission bomb , which by releasing nuclear energy produces blast effects far in excess of what is achievable by the use of conventional explosives. Although a radiological dispersal device is designed to disperse radioactive material over a large area, a bomb that uses conventional explosives and produces a blast wave would be far more lethal to people than the hazard posed by radioactive material that may be mixed with the explosive. A test explosion and subsequent calculations done by the United States Department of Energy found that assuming nothing is done to clean up the affected area and everyone stays in the affected area for one year, the radiation exposure would be "fairly high" but not fatal. Since a dirty bomb is unlikely to cause many deaths by radiation exposure, many do not consider this to be a weapon of mass destruction. For this reason dirty bombs are sometimes called "weapons of mass disruption".
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