In accordance with the official account, the elite scientists killed within the accident — Alexey Vyushin, Yevgeny Koratayev, Vyacheslav Lipshev, Sergey Pichugin and Vladislav Yanovsky — have been killed throughout assessments on a liquid propulsion system involving isotopes.
Sarov, identified through the Chilly Warfare as Arzamas-16, is one among Russia’s secret cities. Closed to foreigners and accessible solely by particular allow, Sarov is the tough equal to Los Alamos, New Mexico, one of many birthplaces of US nuclear weapons design.
In different phrases, the take a look at almost definitely had some nuclear dimension. And the reflexive secrecy of the federal government of Russian President Vladimir Putin has solely additional fueled hypothesis about the reason for the accident.
This is what we all know: authorities in northern Russia detected a quick rise in radiation ranges following an explosion at a navy coaching floor there, Russian state information company TASS reported Thursday.
Severodvinsk has a naval base and shipyard and TASS, citing emergency providers, initially stated the incident started onboard a ship.
The Arkhangelsk regional governor instructed TASS that the world across the explosion wouldn’t be evacuated. However the experiences of the transient radiation spike and the lack of know-how across the incident raised instant purple flags.
‘An uncommon element’
Whereas the Russian Ministry of Protection admitted one thing went incorrect, knowledgeable observers instantly raised questions on what, precisely, had been occurring on the take a look at vary.
Jeffrey Lewis, an arms-control skilled on the Middlebury Institute of Worldwide Research at Monterey, was one of many first to recommend that missile accident had an uncommon element.
On Twitter, Lewis linked to an August eight image captured by satellite tv for pc imaging firm Planet Labs, exhibiting the Serebryanka, a nuclear gasoline service, close to the missile take a look at website in Russia the place the explosion and fireplace broke out.
The ship’s presence, he speculated, might need been associated to the testing of a nuclear-powered cruise missile.
The Serebrynka, Lewis famous, was the identical ship used to get better a nuclear propulsion unit from a failed nuclear-powered cruise missile take a look at final summer time off Novaya Zemlya, an archipelago within the Arctic Ocean.
“We’re skeptical of the declare that what was being examined was a liquid propellant jet engine,” Lewis instructed CNN, referring to final week’s explosion. “We predict it was a nuclear-powered cruise missile that they name Burevestnik.” The identical missile is thought by NATO members as SCC-X-Skyfall.
A US official has additionally instructed CNN that the explosion was “seemingly” linked to the Skyfall prototype. US President Donald Trump additionally made the connection, tweeting on Monday: “The Russian ‘Skyfall’ explosion has individuals anxious in regards to the air and across the facility, and much past. Not good!”
Questions linger at this time about whether or not one thing harmful has been launched following this incident. In accordance with the native web site 29.ru, officers have shut down the Dvina Bay within the White Sea for swimming for a month.
Is it the brand new Chernobyl? Actually, no large plume of radiation has been detected, as occurred over Scandinavia earlier than the Soviets acknowledged the 1986 catastrophe. However official secrecy usually fuels fears of a cover-up.
On this case, the accident appears extra harking back to an incident that occurred 19 years in the past: the sinking of the nuclear-powered submarine, the Kursk, led to the deaths of greater than 100 sailors and was a public-relations catastrophe for Putin, who was nonetheless newly in workplace.
At this time, not like then, Putin now enjoys a near-total monopoly on Russian media. And the Kremlin up to now is working to comprise and management the embarrassing information in regards to the accident at a secret navy take a look at vary.
CNN’s Zachary Cohen, Mary Ilyushina, Zahra Ullah and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.