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Post at: Apr 12 2022

Thermobaric Weapon

Why in News ?

  • On 9th March 2022, United Kingdom accused Russia of resorting to the use of dangerous Thermobaric bombs against Ukraine.

What is a Thermobaric Weapon ?

  • Thermobaric bombs (weapons) - also known as aerosol bombs or fuel air explosives, or vacuum bombs (Cluster Munitions)
  • These are called vacuum bombs as they suck in oxygen from surrounding areas to generate high - voltage explosions.
  • The blast wave generated by such weapons is of greater intensity and duration than conventional bombs and can vapourise humans.

How do they work?

  • These weapons involves two stage munition

(1) The first stage converts carbon - based fuel into tiny metal particulates which are discharged as an aerosol.
(2) The second part detonates the aerosol, converting it into a huge fireball and simultaneously creating an impactful shock wave. Inside this shoc wave, a vaccum is created, which draws in the nearby oxygen and exponentially enhances the severity of the explosion.

  • Thermobaric bombs are devastating and effective in urban areas or open conditions and can penetrate bunkers and other underground locations.

Legal aspects regarding use of Thermobaric weapons

  • Countries that have ratified 'The Convention on Cluster Munitions' are prohibited from using cluster bombs.
  • As of date, there are 110 state parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and 13 other countries have signed up but are yet to ratify it. Neither Russia nor Ukraine are signatories.
  • India is not one of the state party nor a signatory
  • Vaccum Bombs are not prohibited by any international law or agreement, but their use against civilian populations in built up areas schools or hospitals, could attract under the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907.
  • Amnesty International claims international humanitarian law prohibits the use of inherently indiscriminate weapons such as thermobaric bombs.

Way Forward

  • The Thermobaric weapon attack on Ukraine by Russia is the latest reminder to the United Nations and other peace - building international bodies to work for the domination of thermobaric, cluster and Nuclear weapons. The stakes are simply too high to allow these dangers unadressed.



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