The Neutron Bomb

The neutron bomb is a small hydrogen bomb. The neutron bomb differs from standard nuclear weapons insofar as its primary lethal effects come from the radiation damage caused by the neutrons it emits. It is also known as an enhanced-radiation weapon (ERW).

The augmented radiation effects mean that blast and heat effects are reduced so that physical structures including houses and industrial installations, are less affected. Because neutron radiation effects drop off very rapidly with distance, there is a sharper distinction between areas of high lethality and areas with minimal radiation doses.

This was desired by the forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), since they have to be prepared to fight in densely populated areas; any tactical nuclear explosion will endanger civilian lives and property.