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Kremlin cover up on weapon tested, and radioactive contamination?

Russian radiation detectors ‘go dark’ after mystery explosion
The mysterious shutdown of four nuclear monitoring stations after a fatal blast at a military site has fuelled fears of radioactive contamination. 22 Aug 19

Russian officials have dismissed concerns, declaring on Tuesday the country had no obligation to share its data with the CNTBTO — raising fears of a Kremlin cover up on the type of weapon involved and the extent of contamination.

Elevated radiation levels — of up to 16 times the average — were detected 40 km away in the city of Severodvinsk in the aftermath of the event, according to The New York Times.

President Vladimir Putin said on Monday there was no risk to the public, although officials have yet to disclose how much radiation was released………

US National Nuclear Security Administration former deputy William Tobey said it was “at least an odd coincidence” Russian sensors stopped transmitting data about the same time as the explosion occurred.

“Power outages, other failures, can knock down a particular place, but if more than one site is out, it would seem that that is a less likely explanation,” Mr Tobey said.

Russian authorities have offered changing and contradictory information about the explosion fuelling speculation about what really happened and what type of weapon was involved.

While the Russian Defense Ministry said no radiation had been released in a rocket engine explosion, officials in the nearby city of Severodvinsk reported a brief rise in radiation levels.

The contradiction drew comparisons to Soviet attempts to cover up the 1986 explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

In his first comments on the explosion, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday that it hasn’t posed any radiation threat. Putin added that experts are monitoring the situation to prevent any “unexpected developments.”

He didn’t say what weapon was being tested when the explosion occurred, but described the

test as a “state mission of critical importance.”…….

The Russian military said the explosion killed two people and injured six, while the state nuclear corporation Rosatom acknowledged later that it also killed five of its engineers and injured three others.

Rosatom said the explosion occurred on an offshore platform during tests of a “nuclear isotope power source.”……

Rosatom’s mention of a “nuclear isotope power source,” led some observers to conclude that the weapon undergoing tests was the “Burevestnik” or “Storm Petrel,” a prospective nuclear-powered cruise missile first mentioned by Putin in 2018 and was codenamed “Skyfall” by NATO.

US President Donald Trump backed that theory in a tweet last week, saying America is “learning much” from the Skyfall explosion.

The US worked to develop a nuclear-powered missile in the 1960s under Project Pluto, but the idea was discarded as impractical and risky. Mr Tobey said Russia’s apparent revival of the concept raises significant risks.

“Effectively, Russia is thinking about flying around nuclear reactors,” he told AP.

“The very idea of this system is, I think, a risky system. It probably poses more risk to the Russian people than to the American people. If it crashes, it could spread radiation.”

Nuclear expert Michael Krepon, who co-founded the Stimson Center, a nonpartisan public policy research body, said it was not surprising that Russia might take steps to conceal its activities because “they just can’t accept transparency when it comes to screw ups”.

“This weapon poses a danger first and foremost to the people who are working on it,” Mr Krepon said.

“It’s dumb, it’s stupid, it’s expensive, and there are so many other ways that you can deliver nuclear weapons long distance. The more Putin advertises this system, the more he’s likely to be embarrassed by it.”

August 22, 2019 - Posted by | Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties

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