Terrifying Explosion in Beirut Wasn’t Nuclear, Experts Say, And Here’s Why
When an enormous explosion created a mushroom cloud over Beirut, killing dozens of people and injuring thousands more, online commentators and conspiracy theorists quickly jumped to a frightening claim: A nuclear bomb had gone off in Lebanon’s capital city.
But as state officials say, and contrary to those fast-spreading rumours, the explosion was almost certainly not caused by a nuclear weapon.
Even before Lebanese officials said the explosion was caused by a large stockpile of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse at the port, according to The Guardian, experts who study nuclear weapons quickly and unequivocally rejected the idea that Beirut had been hit with a nuclear bomb.
People trained cameras on the Beirut port at the time of the blast because a worrisome cloud of smoke rose beforehand. Some of those videos show small flashes of light and reports (or sounds) that are distinctive to fireworks.
Moments later, the huge explosion – which came with a visible blast wave and mushroom-like cloud of smoke – rocked the area, destroying nearby buildings and shattering distant windows.
In a tweet that accumulated thousands of likes and reshares before it was deleted, one user wrote: “Good Lord. Lebanese media says it was a fireworks factory. Nope. That’s a mushroom cloud. That’s atomic.”
Vipin Narang, who studies nuclear proliferation and strategy at the…