Russia is still racing the United States in nuclear technology and sometimes accidents happen. As details emerge in this developing story, the Kremlin just made an official announcement about the tragic incident.
A statement issued Tuesday morning by Dmitry Peskov admits that “accidents, unfortunately, happen. The Kremlin spokesman went on to note, “they are tragedies, but in this particular case, it is important for us to remember those heroes who lost their lives in this accident.” Five employees of the state nuclear agency Rosatom were killed in what is being reported as an explosion.
Nearly a week ago, a blast happened at a testing platform in the White sea off Nyonoksa, which caused a radiation spike of up to 16 times the normal level in the city of Severodvinsk. From the first announcements, everyone started guessing that the explosion was from a test of the SSC-X-9 “Skyfall” missile that President Putin recently talked up. It is allegedly powered by a nuclear reactor.
That was almost, but not quite, confirmed by the Kremlin in response to a tweet by President Donald Trump. Peskov declined to confirm rumors that the accident involved the nuclear-powered cruise missile but as CNN reports, admitted, “Russian efforts to develop such technologies remained ‘considerably far ahead of the level other countries have managed to achieve.'” The Kremlin wasn’t about to let Trump’s bragging go unanswered.
“The United States is learning much from the failed missile explosion in Russia,” President Trump tweeted Monday. “We have similar, though more advanced, technology. The Russian ‘Skyfall’ explosion has people worried about the air around the facility, and far beyond. Not good!”
Peskov echoed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s words, to boast that efforts to develop such technologies remained “considerably far ahead of the level other countries have managed to achieve.” It is speculated that a nuclear isotope power source for the engines was being tested at the time of the explosion.
Trump wasn’t telling the Kremlin anything they didn’t already know. “It would certainly would be quite strange if a country — a world superpower that spends more money on defense than all the rest of the countries of the world — was not involved in such projects,” Peskov chuckled. “That is why is this is not new information.”
The radiation forced first responder medics who examined the direct casualties to be airlifted to Moscow for examination. The medics have been silenced though, having signed an agreement not to talk about the incident. Villagers living in Nyonoksa have been evacuated. Local residents raced out to buy iodide which can limit damage from radiation.
Flags flew at half staff in Sarov, which has been the center of the Soviet Union’s nuclear program since the 1940’s. Russia’s defense ministry and the state controlled Rosatom nuclear energy company offered conflicting reports as to how many people were injured or killed.
Russia’s defense ministry initially reported that “the explosion at the navy’s testing range killed two people and injured six others.” Over the weekend, that changed when Rosatom said the blast “killed five of its workers and injured three others.” The final toll remains unknown. The victims were reportedly “on a sea platform testing a rocket engine and were thrown into the sea by the explosion.”
Although comparisons have been drawn to the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, this one is smaller. The same sort of information blackout occurred both times.
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Authorities closed part of Dvina Bay for a month in an effort to conceal missile debris recovery from outsiders.
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