China may be developing a devastating doomsday device first dreamt up during the Cold War. State-sponsored experiments at a Chinese research facility have raised concerns the country is building a 'salted' nuclear bomb. Pictured is one of China's Dongfeng-41 missiles

China may be building ‘highly immoral’ salted nuclear bomb

China World
Share this:
Share

China may be bringing back a devastating doomsday device first dreamt up during the Cold War.

State-sponsored experiments at a Chinese research facility have raised concerns the country is building a ‘salted’ nuclear bomb.

The device, which one weapons expert has labelled ‘highly immoral’, uses a special isotope to release huge amounts of radioactive fallout.

Scroll down for video

China may be developing a devastating doomsday device first dreamt up during the Cold War. State-sponsored experiments at a Chinese research facility have raised concerns the country is building a 'salted' nuclear bomb. Pictured is one of China's Dongfeng-41 missiles

China may be developing a devastating doomsday device first dreamt up during the Cold War. State-sponsored experiments at a Chinese research facility have raised concerns the country is building a 'salted' nuclear bomb. Pictured is one of China's Dongfeng-41 missiles

China may be developing a devastating doomsday device first dreamt up during the Cold War. State-sponsored experiments at a Chinese research facility have raised concerns the country is building a ‘salted’ nuclear bomb. Pictured is one of China’s Dongfeng-41 missiles

Experts at the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Sciences recently announced they had successfully fired superheated beams of a radioactive isotope of tantalum.

The rare metal is one of few isotopes that can be added to warheads to create a salted bomb, with potentially devastating consequences.

The research was carried out at a facility in the city of Lanzhou by experts working with the Institute of Modern Physics.

Scientists behind the project stated.their work aimed to ‘meet a critical strategic demand of China’s national defence.’ 

They added it had potential military applications, but refused to give further details.

Tantalus is a rare metal used in alloys and electronics, and is named after a villain from Greek mythology. 

If it develops a salted bomb, China could load it into one of its Dongfeng-41 missiles, a long-range device with a range of 7,500 miles (12,000km) - long enough to hit the UK and the United States - expected to enter China's arsenal later this year 

If it develops a salted bomb, China could load it into one of its Dongfeng-41 missiles, a long-range device with a range of 7,500 miles (12,000km) - long enough to hit the UK and the United States - expected to enter China's arsenal later this year 

If it develops a salted bomb, China could load it into one of its Dongfeng-41 missiles, a long-range device with a range of 7,500 miles (12,000km) – long enough to hit the UK and the United States – expected to enter China’s arsenal later this year 

WHAT ARE SALTED BOMBS?

A ‘salted bomb’ is a type of nuclear weapon that has been branded ‘highly immoral’ by some experts.

The device aims to spread deadly radioactive fallout as far as possible rather than maximise explosive force.

The result is lasting environmental damage and vast areas of land left uninhabitable for decades.

Salted bombs take their name from the phrase ‘to salt the earth’, meaning to render soil unable to host life.

They are able to contaminate a much larger area than a traditional ‘dirty’ atomic bomb, like those used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

To increase the radioactive destruction of salted bombs, certain radioactive isotopes are added to the device.

Heavy metals like gold, cobalt or tantalum can be used.

Incorporating these metals into an atomic bomb would send high-energy neutrons at the stable element and turn it into a highly radioactive version.

The radioactive isotope would then contaminate huge swathes of land. 

A salted bomb is believed to be of lesser energy than other bombs due to these changes but could cause more long-term damage.

The idea of a salted bomb was first proposed by Hungarian-American physicist Leo Szilard during the Cold War.

Along with Albert Einstein, the scientist was instrumental in the beginning of the Manhattan Project.

No intentionally salted bomb has ever been atmospherically tested but the UK tested a 1 kiloton bomb incorporating a small amount of cobalt as an experimental radiochemical tracer in 1957.

It is part of a group of heavy metals that, if added to a nuclear warhead, could theoretically boost the release of radioactive fallout.

So-called ‘salted bombs’ aim to spread deadly fallout from a weapon as far as possible rather than maximise explosive force.

The weapons aim to cause lasting environmental damage and render vast areas uninhabitable for decades.

The device, which nuclear weapons experts say is 'highly immoral', uses a special isotope to release huge amounts of fallout. China recently announced successful tests with tantalum, one of few isotopes that could be used in a salt bomb. Pictured is a Dongfeng-41 missile

The device, which nuclear weapons experts say is 'highly immoral', uses a special isotope to release huge amounts of fallout. China recently announced successful tests with tantalum, one of few isotopes that could be used in a salt bomb. Pictured is a Dongfeng-41 missile

The device, which nuclear weapons experts say is ‘highly immoral’, uses a special isotope to release huge amounts of fallout. China recently announced successful tests with tantalum, one of few isotopes that could be used in a salt bomb. Pictured is a Dongfeng-41 missile

They take their name from the phrase ‘to salt the earth’, meaning to render soil unable to host life.

The idea was first proposed during the Cold War by Leo Szilard, a Hungarian-American physicist who was instrumental in the building of the first nuclear bomb. 

No salted bomb has ever been tested, and according to public records none have ever been built.

But some believe the new Chinese Tantalus research could be applied in the creation of one of the devices.

If it develops a salted bomb, China could load it into one of its Dongfeng-41 missiles, a long-range device with a range of 7,500 miles (12,000km) – long enough to hit the UK and the United States – expected to enter China’s arsenal later this year. 

No salted bomb has ever been tested, and according to public records none have ever been built. It takes its name from the phrase 'to salt the earth', meaning to render soil unable to host life. Pictured are US engineers working on a nuclear warhead within an ICBM in 2014

No salted bomb has ever been tested, and according to public records none have ever been built. It takes its name from the phrase 'to salt the earth', meaning to render soil unable to host life. Pictured are US engineers working on a nuclear warhead within an ICBM in 2014

No salted bomb has ever been tested, and according to public records none have ever been built. It takes its name from the phrase ‘to salt the earth’, meaning to render soil unable to host life. Pictured are US engineers working on a nuclear warhead within an ICBM in 2014

The superheated beam could also help China’s military to test the durability of its equipment in extreme events by firing it directly at prototypes.

It is highly unlikely the research will lead to a salted bomb, but experts told the South China Morning Post the experiment could have military applications.

Dr Cai Minghui, a researcher at Beijing National Space Science Centre, said: ‘In theory, the particle beam of a heavy element such as tantalum can be used as a directed energy weapon.’

Professor Han Dejun, a nuclear scientist at Beijing Normal University, stated.of the tantalum accelerator experiment: ‘The most likely application that I can think of is in nuclear research.

‘By generating a powerful beam of tantalum ions we can observe how the metal interacts with other elements and change form in high-speed collisions.

‘It simulates what will happen in a real nuclear reaction.’

A third expert from China’s Arms Control and Disarmament Association stated.the likelihood China is stockpiling salted bombs is ‘very low’.

‘These are highly immoral weapons,’ he said. 

Share this:
Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.