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  • Russia’s state meteorological agency said on Monday that a cloud of inert radioactive gases that swept through a Russian city earlier this month was produced by rapidly decomposing radioactive isotopes released by an explosion on the test field of Nyonoksa.
  • Although Russia’s explanations for what happened have varied, the explosion was linked to a failed missile test.
  • A Norwegian nuclear expert told The Barents Observer that these isotopes – strontium, barium and lanthanum – were caused by a “nuclear chain reaction”, saying it was proof that it was “d ‘a nuclear reactor that exploded “.
  • U.S. experts and intelligence officials suspect the failed weapons test involved the 9M730 Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile, a superweapon NATO calls the SSC-X-9 Skyfall.
  • Visit the Insider homepage for more stories.

A mysterious explosion at a Russian weapons test site earlier this month released various radioactive isotopes, creating a cloud of radioactive gases that swept through a nearby town, the country’s state weather agency said on Monday, and experts said the mixture removes any doubt about what exploded. .

The deadly August 8 explosion at the Nyonoksa Military Weapons Test Field released a handful of rapidly decaying radioactive isotopes – strontium-91, barium-139, barium-140 and lanthanum-140 – which have half-life. -lives ranging from 83 minutes to 12.8 days, the national meteorological and environmental monitoring agency Roshydromet said in a statement on test samples.

“These are fission products,” Joshua Pollack, a leading nuclear proliferation and missile specialist, told Insider. “If anyone is still in doubt that a nuclear reactor was involved in this incident, this report should go a long way in resolving this issue.”

Alexander Uvarov, editor-in-chief of the independent news site, told the RIA Novosti news agency that the isotopes were products of nuclear fission involving uranium, Agence France- reported on Monday. Hurry. This collection of radioisotopes could be released by a reaction involving uranium-235.

Nils Bohmer, a Norwegian nuclear security expert, told The Barents Observer that “the presence of decay products like barium and strontium comes from a nuclear chain reaction,” adding that this was proof that he It was “a nuclear reactor that exploded”.

Edwin Lyman, an expert from the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the Guardian that the detected fission products indicated a release from the reactor. “It certainly now appears that with reports of the detection of certain radioactive fission products (Sr-91, Ba-139, Ba-140), the Nyonoksa explosion involved a critical nuclear reactor,” Lyman said. wrote on Twitter, adding: “More information is needed before any conclusions can be drawn on the type of reactor.”

Russia has been suspicious of the details of the crash, which killed at least five and up to seven people and triggered a brief spike in radiation in the nearby town of Severodvinsk, a detail Russia turned around in grateful. Russia said the radiation situation, which was within acceptable levels, has stabilized.

Read more: Here’s why the Russian military has so many serious accidents

In the aftermath of the explosion, Russia’s explanation of the accident and its risks varied, several nuclear monitoring stations in Russia mysteriously went offline, medics treating the injured said they were forced to signing nondisclosure agreements and hospital records were destroyed, and a doctor was found to have a radioactive isotope in his muscle tissue. Russia insisted that the cesium-137 it detected was the result of something the doctor ate.

Read more: Looks like the Russians are trying to hide the truth about this nuclear accident in Nyonoksa

Russian authorities claimed the incident occurred “during testing of a liquid propulsion system involving isotopes” (Russian state media initially reported that a rocket motor had exploded), but Bohmer would have explained that short-lived radioactive isotopes would not have been produced by this kind of test.

Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear agency, said Russia was working on new weapons when the explosion occurred, but provided no details, simply saying that the tragedy “sometimes occurs during testing of new technologies “.

A Kremlin spokesman revealed last week that Russia was testing a “nuclear-powered missile,” the Washington Post reported at the time.

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently said that Russia is not hiding details of the crash. He then clarified that “this is work in the military field, work on promising weapons systems”, adding that “when it comes to activities of a military nature, there are certain restrictions on ‘access to information’.

U.S. experts and intelligence officials suspect Russia of testing the 9M730 Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile, a super weapon NATO calls the SSC-X-9 Skyfall. In a tweet about the incident, President Donald Trump called it a “Skyfall Blast.”

Read more: The explosion that killed 5 Russian engineers was apparently caused by another failed test of Putin’s doomsday missile

Andrei Zolotkov, a chemist who has spent more than three decades working on Russia’s nuclear icebreaker fleet, told the Guardian that the nuclear reactor involved in the recent failed test appeared to be an unusual reactor, which should meaning if Russia was, as suspected, working with a compact reactor for a new nuclear-powered missile.

Putin boasted that the Burevestnik would be “invincible”, with “unlimited reach, an unpredictable trajectory and the ability to bypass interception.” But at the moment, it doesn’t really work and could pose a greater threat to the Russian people than to any opponent.

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