Published: Tue, August 13, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

USA officials suspect new nuclear missile in explosion that killed seven Russians

USA officials suspect new nuclear missile in explosion that killed seven Russians

Sergei Kirienko, Russian President Vladimir Putin's deputy chief of staff, said the five would be posthumously awarded with top medals.

In a separate statement Rosatom said the accident occurred during the engineering and technical support of "isotope power sources" on a liquid propulsion system.

According to the source, the test occurred on a platform at sea and the explosion threw several people into the water.

A "short-term" spike in radiation levels was reported on Friday by officials in the city of Severodvinsk, near the testing site, but that report was removed from the web later that day.

But the nearby city of Severodvinsk recorded elevated levels after the accident and panicked residents rushed to buy iodine to counteract radiation.

What are the authorities saying?

While Russia's state-run Rosatom nuclear group has dismissed these concerns, Alaska Public Media reported Thursday on the concerns of a local environmental group, a shipping company and a U.S. Naval War College expert, who expressed reservations about Russia's past and present nuclear practices.

"The best tribute to them will be our continued work on new models of weapons, which will definitely be carried out to the end", Likhachev was quoted as saying by RIA news agency.

The U.S. official also said that increased levels of radiation had been detected in areas near the site of last week's explosion. The Russian military said radiation levels were normal but disclosed few details about the incident.

What is the media reporting?

Russian Federation has never given details on how the the new missile works but most arms experts believe it is a so-called ramjet-that is an engine that works by sucking in air, heating it and then releasing it out the back to create propulsion.

It said staff knew of the "potential risk" of the test.

Vyacheslav Solovyev, one of the officials at the institute in the closed city of Sarov, did not spell out exactly what the nuclear experts had been working on, but said the institute worked on nuclear-powered energy sources. Questions remain about the incident that may have involved a new nuclear-powered cruise missile and could have contaminated the White Sea with radioactive waste. It is also the home to one of Russia's nuclear-submarine shipyards, where the mothership for the Poseidon torpedo was recently launched.

The defense ministry said the blast happened during the testing of a rocket engine.

The Serebrynka, Lewis noted, was the same ship used to recover a nuclear propulsion unit from a failed nuclear-powered cruise missile test last summer off Novaya Zemlya, an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean.

Kostyukov named the specialists killed in the accident - Alexey Vyushin, Yevgeny Koratayev, Vyacheslave Lipshev, Sergey Pichugin and Vladislav Yanovsky. The agency released the five experts' photos to the RBC news website on Monday. Five nuclear scientists were killed in this accident, while nine were injured. The workers were brought from the airplane to a Moscow hospital in vehicles wrapped in film, the Telegram channel added.

Over the weekend, administrators at a research facility that had employed five of the scientists who were killed confirmed a small nuclear reactor had exploded during an experiment, according to The Times.

A memorial service for the scientists was held Monday in the closed city of Sarov, 500 kilometers (300 miles) east of Moscow.

Reuters contributed reporting to this article.

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