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Dirty weapons

  1. Aug 22, 2004 #1
    This probably shouldn't be under philosophy, but what the hell.

    A dirty weapon is an area denial weapon. It is used to make an area uninhabitable by delivering a payload of radioactive or toxic goo, which is harmful to life. It is feared that terrorists might use dirty weapons in major cities to render them uninhabitable and kill civilians in the process.

    Depleted uranium (DU) shells have a slightly radioactive payload and their weight is the property that they are used for. While the radioactivity is of little to no threat to humans, dust from DU shells when inhaled or ingested can allegedly cause cancer and is allegedly to blame for the high rate of deformed births in Iraq following the first Gulf War.

    So my question is, do you think that DU shells should be classified as dirty weapons? And what is your reasoning behind this?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 23, 2004 #2


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    From your own definitions, depleted uranium shells are not dirty weapons even though they have some residual radioctivity. They should be banned because of this but it really just confuses the issue to mix them up with genuine area denial weapons. If you wanted to use a dirty weapon for area denial, you would certainlly not choose depleted uranium shells.
  4. Aug 23, 2004 #3
    A dirty weapon is more than that. It is intended to be a weapon of mass descruction and a weapon to instill fear.

    Regarding DU causing cancer and it being a dirty weapon. It is a weapon no doubt. But it is not intended to rain radiopactive waste on areas and kill by radioactivity. Under odd circumstances it may be possible for people to get cancer from it under rare conditions. However just because a weapon can do harm it doesn't mean that it will do that harm. I used to smoke. But Philip Morrison wass not trying to use a weapon on me. At least I wouldn't call it a weapon. Yet I could have gotten cancer from it. Cigarettes give off "second hand smoke" and the people around this smoke can get cancer too. Are cigarettes dirty weapons? I don't think so. The DU is the weapon. The residue left over after the DU has served its purpose can cause cancer.

    No. I don't consider them dirty weapons.

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