An American intelligence assessment has reported that the mysterious explosion of the Russian prototype of a nuclear cruise missile took place during a salvage mission, rather than a test.
The mysterious explosion on August 8 on the range of the Russian Navy in Nyonoksa killed seven and caused fear that Russia was testing its nuclear-powered Burevestnik rocket, also known under the NATO code name & # 39; Skyfall & # 39 ;.
But US intelligence services point out that the deadly explosion occurred when Russia tried to rescue a downed Skyfall rocket from the ocean floor, two sources with direct knowledge of the report told CNBC.
& # 39; This was not a new weapon launch, but a recovery mission to rescue a lost rocket from a previous test, & # 39; told a source at the outlet.
The central military naval testing area Nyonoksa can be seen in a file photo. A deadly explosion in the White Sea is linked to the experimental nuclear rocket of Russia
Employees of the nearby Arkhangelsk Rescue Service are seen during the training. Arkhangelsk medical workers responded after the explosion
New reports indicate the explosion occurred while the Russian army tried to rescue a nuclear rocket from the ocean floor after a failed test
Another said: & # 39; There was an explosion on one of the ships involved in the recovery and that caused a reaction in the nuclear core of the rocket that led to the radiation leak. & # 39;
The White Sea explosion killed two soldiers and five nuclear engineers and injured six others.
Satellite images and photos of the scene appear to show damage to floating pontoon platforms in the ocean outside the test range.
Nuclear-powered cruise missiles use the heat from a non-shielded nuclear reactor to drive a ramjet engine at supersonic speeds and have an almost unlimited range.
The US talked about the idea of nuclear cruise missiles in the 1960s, but left the project, at least officially, as too dangerous and provocative.
President Donald Trump tweeted that the US & # 39; similar, although more advanced, technology & # 39; like Skyfall. It is unclear whether he revealed state secrets, or simply incorrect.
Russia has reportedly carried out five failed Skyfall tests since November 2017, all of which have resulted in loss of control and crashes.
The longest test lasted two minutes with the rocket flying 22 miles, and the shortest lasted four seconds and five miles, the US believes.
At those distances, the tests apparently did not seem to initialize the nuclear engine at the heart of the rocket, which would probably be launched with conventional rocket amplifiers to reach the ramjet speed.
Photos of destroyed pontoons were circulating on social media after the explosion
The damaged pontoon can be seen in images that circulated on Russian social media
There were dramatic satellite photos of the pontoons that were about two and a half miles off the coast when the explosion occurred
Officials said the explosion in Nyonoksa took place during tests of a & # 39; nuclear isotope power source & # 39; of a rocket engine, but have not confirmed that it was during a Skyfall test.
The Russian government agency for weather and environmental monitoring Rosgidromet said on Monday that the short rise in radiation levels was caused by a cloud of radioactive gases with isotopes of barium, strontium and lanthanum floating over the area.
The agency said its monitoring since August 8 has found no traces of radiation in air or soil samples.
Alexei Karpov, Russia's envoy to international organizations in Vienna, told the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization on Monday that & # 39; the tragic accident that occurred has nothing to do with nuclear testing & # 39 ;.
But, he said, the range testing & # 39; related to the development of weapons, which we had to start creating as one of the retaliation measures related to the unilateral withdrawal of the US from the anti-ballistic missile treaty in 2002 & # 39 ;, according to a transcript from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A billboard says & # 39; The State Central Navy Testing Range & # 39; in the vicinity of residential buildings in the village of Nyonoksa in this file photo. The village was evacuated after the explosion
A view shows an entry checkpoint of a military garrison near the village of Nyonoksa in the Arkhangelsk region, Russia
Conflicting statements from the authorities and their unwillingness to reveal details of the explosion have drawn comparisons with the Soviet cover-up of the explosion and fire in 1986 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, & # 39; the world's worst nuclear disaster.
The Ministry of Defense denied radiation leaks, even when the local government in Severodvinsk reported a rise in radiation levels and told residents to stay indoors – a move that led anxious residents to buy iodine, which may help reduce the risk of exposure. to reduce radiation.
Russian media reported that the victims of the explosion received high doses of radiation.
They said that medical workers in Arkhangelsk City Hospital who treated three of the wounded said they were not warned that they would treat people exposed to radiation and had no basic protective equipment.
The Moscow Times on Monday quoted Igor Semin, a hospital cardiovascular surgeon, who critically criticized the authorities in a social network post for not warning hospital workers about the fatal risks. & # 39; They were abandoned and left to take care of themselves & # 39 ;, quoted the newspaper Semin.
Asked about the doctor's statement, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the authorities will investigate the case.
Why the US has declared nuclear cruise missiles as too dangerous
In the mid-1950s, the US Air Force invented a nuclear-powered rocket called the Supersonic Low Altitude Missile or SLAM.
Powered by a non-shielded nuclear reactor that overheats the air in a supersonic ramjet, the rockets could fly around the earth indefinitely for a few miles over the ground.
The missiles were intended to deliver useful cargo of nuclear weapons, but would also cause devastating damage from shock waves and radiation.
In the mid-1950s, the US Air Force invented a nuclear-powered rocket
After the launch, the rockets could theoretically fly indefinitely in circles over the ocean until they & # 39; to the deck & # 39; were called.
Hitting just above the ground, the missiles would be insensitive to traditional missile defense and hard to see on radar.
After delivering their nuclear warheads, the missiles could continue to cause massive damage and loss of lives by simply navigating circles in populated areas and spraying radiation and flattening buildings with shock waves.
The rockets can also be crashed into a population center to cause maximum radiation damage from the non-shielded nuclear core.
The Tory II-A nuclear ramjet prototype was developed by Project Pluto in the early & # 39; 60
The US carried out soil testing of a nuclear-powered ramjet engine under Project Pluto, but the project was officially demolished in 1964 as too frightening and provocative.
War planners feared that if the US developed the gruesome and unstoppable missiles, the USSR would have to do the same.
. (TagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) news (t) Russia