Russian explosion tied to cruise-missile program - US thinks
Date: 2019-08-14 11:14
A senior White House official echoed President Donald Trump's previous tweets to say that Washington believes a Russian hypersonic cruise-missile program is linked to the deadly August 8 explosion that killed at least five people, Reuters reported.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said Washington wasn't ready to assert that it was a nuclear explosion but believed radioactive elements were involved.
An evacuation of Nyonoksa, the town where the blast occurred near the Arkhangelsk naval test site, was scheduled for August 14, but was later canceled.
However, the Rosgidromet weather agency on August 13 added further evidence to reports that the test at the Nyonoksa range on the White Sea had released not only toxic missile fuel but also unspecified radioactive material.
And The New York Times on August 12 cited anonymous US intelligence officials who said Russia was apparently testing a "new type of nuclear-propelled cruise missile," while saying the blast could possibly be "one of the worst nuclear accidents in the region since Chernobyl."
In a post to Twitter on August 12, US President Donald Trump also asserted that the incident was a failed test of a missile prototype nicknamed Skyfall by NATO experts, though he gave no evidence.
Last week's incident continues to be dogged by confusion and misinformation from local and federal officials, both about the exact death toll but also about what exactly was being tested.
In a briefing on August 13, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov gave little new information about the explosion.
"Accidents, unfortunately, happen. These are tragedies. And in this case, it is important for us to remember those heroes who lost their lives as a result of these accidents," Peskov was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.