A deadly nuclear explosion in Russia’s Arctic north that killed at least five people was the result of testing conducted on an “unparalleled” weapon, according to the country’s president, Vladimir Putin, Newsweek reports.
Putin made the claim at a Thursday ceremony for the families of the deceased scientists, who were awarded the Order of Courage for their work on the alleged “advanced and unparalleled technical ideas and solutions” at the core of their research.
The 67-year-old politician claims that such weapons are designed to preserve Russia’s security and sovereignty into the coming decades, calling them the “most important reliable guarantee” of peace for the world. Despite the deaths, Putin said work would continue to perfect the weapon “regardless of anything.”
“This is not any ordinary work that led to this tragedy. To devote oneself, one’s life to such a thing is the courageous, serious choice of a real man, citizen and patriot of the country.”
International experts believe the explosion stems from the Burevestnik nuclear-powered intercontinental cruise missile. Per The Globe and Mail, the missile is code-named “Skyfall” by NATO and is reportedly one of Russia’s most secretive weapons. The weapon’s existence was first revealed during Putin’s state of the nation address in 2018, during which he said it would be able to traverse the globe without being picked up by missile defense systems. The mammoth claim has generated skepticism, with some suggesting that such a weapon would not be feasible.
The alleged weapon reportedly led to a 16-fold increase in radiation levels in Severodvinsk, the closest big city located approximately 30 miles away from the testing site. However, Russian officials have declined to comment on the country’s official investigation into the incident, and information provided by such officials regarding the blast have been contradictory.
???????? — UPDATE: Russian President Putin says, Those killed in explosion that caused brief radiation spike in northwest Russia in August were developing weapon that has 'no equal in the world. -BNO— ®️BELAAZ (@TheBelaaz) November 21, 2019
According to U.S. intelligence, the explosion stems from a radiation leak that took place during a mission to salvage a previously lost missile, which reacted with a vessel involved in the recovery.
Per RT, Putin previously touted the country’s “hypersonic, laser and other state-of-the-art” weapons, which he claims are not found in any other country. But Putin also claimed that such weapons are not an excuse for Russia to go on the attack
“On the contrary, we are ready to do everything in our power to promote the disarmament process in view of our latest weapon systems, which are developed with the sole purpose of guaranteeing security in the face of growing threats we face.”
Putin previously announced a new wave of Russian weapons, including underwater drones with nuclear-powered engines.