This paper describes a radiation source that can be used to actively interrogate containers, trucks, trains, cars, etc to determine the presence and location of chemical explosives and special nuclear materials such as uranium and plutonium. Active interrogation methods using high energy photon or neutron sources to induce fission are the only feasible option for detection of highly enriched uranium (HEU) because passive detection methods are easily compromised by even moderate amounts of shielding. For detection of chemical explosives, the same active interrogation device can be used to produce resonant photons that can detect nitrogen that is used in most chemical explosives. The accelerator based system described here produces a penetrating beam of high energy photons or neutrons that can "see" inside a sealed container. If chemical explosives or special nuclear materials are present, they will emit a characteristic signal that is detected and interpreted by electronic sensors. Shielded “dirty bombs” can be detected by the attenuation of high energy photons caused by the density of the shield material. The interrogating source of radiation is based upon a new high current negative ion source and high current tandem accelerator. The accelerator accelerates ions and projects them onto an appropriately designed target. The target converts the energy of the ion beam into a high energy highly penetrating photon or neutron beam. The beam is made to pass through the container. If explosives, special nuclear materials or shielded dirty bombs are present, the beam together with a suitable detection system uniquely identifies the location, amount and density of material.