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Did Russia’s “Doomsday” missile cause last week’s deadly nuclear accident?

PortandTerminal.com, August 13, 2019

Evidence is growing that Russia’s nuclear-powered “Doomsday Missile” is what blew up last week 

MOSCOW – Last week, Russia’s defence ministry initially reported that the explosion at the navy’s testing range located in the port city of Severodvinsk. They reported that the blast killed two people and injured six others. Russia is now reporting that the number of deaths was 7.

Local authorities in Severodvinsk, a city of 183,000, reported a brief spike in radiation levels after the explosion but said it did not pose any health hazards.

The incident did spook local residents to the extent that they rushed to buy iodide from pharmacies, which can help limit the damage from exposure to radiation.

What have the Russian authorities said?

Funeral for the Russian engineers killed in the nuclear blast last week

The Kremlin has now acknowledged that the incident killed at least seven scientists and other personnel from a major state nuclear research laboratory, who were working on a system that included a small nuclear reactor at the time. 

Following the explosion, Russian authorities closed part of Dvina Bay on the White Sea to shipping for a month, in what could be an attempt to prevent outsiders from seeing an operation to recover the missile debris.

What do we know now?

Neither the defence ministry nor Rosatom mentioned the type of rocket that exploded during the test, saying only that it had liquid propellant.

St. Petersburg’s Fontanka.ru news website though quoted a video statement by one of the leaders of the nuclear centre as suggesting that the blast occurred at a “compact nuclear reactor.” Fontanka later updated its report with a statement from Rosatom which said that the suggestion referred to “tests of a radioisotope power supply,” not a “reactor.”

“It’s a nuclear battery, just so you understand,”

Rosatom statement

What everyone agrees on though is that it was a nuclear explosion of some magnitude that killed the victims and caused the radiation spike.

So what nuclear device were the Russians testing?

Speculation

There is wide but as of yet, unconfirmed, speculation that the rocket that exploded was the Burevestnik (Petrel), a nuclear-powered cruise missile first revealed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in March 2018 during his state of the nation address along with other doomsday weapons.

The Petrel is a Russian experimental nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed cruise missile under development for the Russian Armed Forces. The missile is claimed to have virtually unlimited range.

Nuclear experts believe the accident occurred during a test of a missile that Russian President Vladamir Putin has touted in the past year, the New York Times and Reuters reported.

Not good!

President Donald Trump

The SSC-X-9 Skyfall is a prototype cruise missile that could reach any corner of the world with a nuclear reactor as its power source, the Times reported.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson for Russian President, Vladimir Putin

Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters Tuesday that “security is fully ensured” in the region but didn’t comment on the missile that exploded, the Post reported.

Vyacheslav Solovyov, scientific director at the Russian Federal Nuclear Center, told a local newspaper that the institute was studying “small-scale” power sources that include “fissile materials,” the Times and Reuters reported.

In any scenario, the nuclear incident last week in the port city of Severodvinsk is yet another deeply embarrassing and tragic incident in a long line of nuclear mishaps in Russia.

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