Russians killed in missile test blast were working on ‘new weapons’

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia’s nuclear agency chief yesterday confirmed that five scientists killed last week were developing “new weapons” and vowed to continue testing “until the end”, despite the explosion.

The accident took place at an Arctic military facility on the coast of the White Sea last Thursday, but Russian authorities only admitted its nuclear nature on Saturday.

The blast provoked a spike in radiation levels.

United States (US) experts have said it could be linked to the testing of the ‘Burevestnik’ cruise missile, touted by President Vladimir Putin earlier this year.

National nuclear agency Rosatom yesterday honoured the memory of its five dead staff.

“The best (thing) for their memory will be our further work on the new weapons,” the Head of Rosatom Alexei Likhachev was quoted as saying by agencies.

“We are fulfilling the task of the motherland, its security will be reliably ensured,” he added.

Russia held a memorial service for the scientists in the closed city of Sarov in the Nizhny Novgorod region, 500 kilometres east of Moscow.

During the Cold War, Sarov was a top-secret city known as Arzamas-16. The centre produced the Soviet Union’s first nuclear weapons.

It is still a closed city accessible only with special passes.