A recent deadly explosion at a military testing site in northwestern Russia hasn’t posed any radiation threat, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday, without specifying the circumstances of the mysterious incident, the Associated Press reports.
Putin emphasized that neighboring nations haven’t recorded any spike in radioactivity.
“These are the objective data,” he said. “These things can be tracked,” he said after talks in Helsinki with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.
The Aug. 8 incident at the Russian navy’s range in Nyonoksa on the White Sea killed two servicemen and five nuclear engineers and injured six. It was followed by a brief rise in radiation levels in nearby Severodvinsk, but the authorities insisted the recorded levels didn’t pose any danger to local residents.
Russian officials’ changing and contradictory accounts of the incident 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.
Russia’s state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, said the explosion occurred on an offshore platform during tests of a “nuclear isotope power source” for a rocket engine, a statement that led some experts to conclude that the weapon undergoing tests was the Burevestnik (Storm Petrel), a prospective nuclear-powered cruise missile first mentioned by Putin in 2018 that was code-named “Skyfall” by NATO.
U.S. President Donald Trump has backed that theory in a tweet, saying that the U.S. is “learning much” from the deadly explosion. In a tweet, he said: “The Russian ‘Skyfall’ explosion has people worried about the air around the facility, and far beyond. Not good!”
The U.S. worked to develop a nuclear-powered missile in the 1960s under Project Pluto, but abandoned the technology as too unstable and risky.