A compact neutron generator has at its outer circumference a toroidal shaped plasma chamber in which a tritium (or other) plasma is generated. A RF antenna is wrapped around the plasma chamber. A plurality of tritium ion beamlets are extracted through spaced extraction apertures of a plasma electrode on the inner surface of the toroidal plasma chamber and directed inwardly toward the center of neutron generator. The beamlets pass through spaced acceleration and focusing electrodes to a neutron generating target at the center of neutron generator. The target is typically made of titanium tubing. Water is flowed through the tubing for cooling. The beam can be pulsed rapidly to achieve ultrashort neutron bursts. The target may be moved rapidly up and down so that the average power deposited on the surface of the target may be kept at a reasonable level. The neutron generator can produce fast neutrons from a T-T reaction which can be used for luggage and cargo interrogation applications. A luggage or cargo inspection system has a pulsed T-T neutron generator or source at the center, surrounded by associated gamma detectors and other components for identifying explosives or other contraband.