- Russia’s state weather agency said on Monday that a cloud of radioactive gases that swept across a Russian town earlier this month was produced by fast-decaying radioactive isotopes released by an explosion at the Nyonoksa testing range.
- Though Russia’s explanations for what occurred have varied, the blast has been tied to a failed missile test.
- A Norwegian nuclear expert told The Barents Observer that these isotopes — of strontium, barium, and lanthanum — were caused by a “nuclear chain reaction,” saying it was evidence that it “was a nuclear reactor that exploded.”
- US experts and intelligence officials suspect that the failed weapons test involved the 9M730 Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile, a superweapon that NATO calls the SSC-X-9 Skyfall.
mysterious explosion at a Russian weapons testing site earlier this
month released various radioactive isotopes, creating a cloud of
radioactive gases that swept across a nearby town, the country’s state
weather agency said Monday, and experts said the mixture removes all
doubt about what blew up.
The deadly August 8 blast at the Nyonoksa military weapons testing range released a handful of rapidly decaying radioactive isotopes — strontium-91, barium-139, barium-140, and lanthanum-140 — which have half-lives ranging from 83 minutes to 12.8 days, the Roshydromet national weather and environmental monitoring agency said in a statement on test samples. “These are fission products,” Joshua Pollack, a leading expert on nuclear and missile proliferation, told Insider. “If anyone still doubts that a nuclear reactor was involved in this incident, this report should go a long way toward resolving that.”
Nils Bohmer, a Norwegian nuclear-safety expert, told The Barents Observer that “the presence of decay products like barium and strontium is coming from a nuclear chain reaction,” adding that it was evidence that it “was a nuclear reactor that exploded.”
Russia has been cagey with the details of the accident, which killed at least five and as many as seven people and triggered a radiation spike in nearby Severodvinsk, a detail Russia has flip-flopped on acknowledging.