Russian Missile Failure Creates a ‘Mini-Chernobyl’

August 14th, 2019 - by Win Without War & Ars & Reuters

ACTION ALERT: Major Nuclear Accident in Russia

Stephen Miles / Win Without War

(August 13, 2019) — Reports just started breaking that a MAJOR NUCLEAR ACCIDENT in Russia last week was the result of a new type of nuclear-propelled cruise missile. 

The accident near the Nenoksa Missile Test Site is being compared with CHERNOBYL. That is absolutely terrifying and it is critically important the US does NOT escalate the nuclear arms race even one step further.

9 days ago, President Trump formally withdrew the US from a landmark treaty prohibiting some of the most dangerous warheads.

And a new arms race has ALREADY kicked off: the US immediately announced it would test a previously banned cruise missile, and Vladimir Putin swiftly responded that Russia will respond in kind to any new US missile developments. [1]

And now John Bolton is threatening to leave the LAST REMAINING nuclear arms treaty between the United States and Russia, known as the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty or New START. [2] And the US and Russia have 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons. [3]

We’ve never been closer to the dismantling of the entire global nuclear arms control regime. Many of us poured our heart and soul into getting the New START Treaty ratified by the Senate in 2011. Less than 10 years later, we REFUSE to let Trump and Bolton rip up New START, and we need your help:

74 years ago Friday, at 07:50 local time, an air raid alert was sounded in Nagasaki. Half an hour later the all clear was given. [4]

The absolute horror and destruction which shattered that false sense of security is a nightmare the world later swore to NEVER let take place again. 

AND YET in action after action, Trump has made US nuclear weapons policy the most dangerous in a generation. Consider:

  1. He just pulled the US out of the hugely important Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty that, since 1987, blocked the use of land-based intermediate-range missiles which — because of their extremely short flight time — could ignite an all-out nuclear war in just minutes. [5] And already the new Defense Secretary has proposed deploying these banned missiles to Europe and Asia. [6] 
  2. If that isn’t terrifyingly risky enough, Trump has made one of his signature defense priorities building Gateway Nukes — nuclear weaponsDESIGNED TO BE USED in conventional wars, a horrific premise of self-fulfilling logic if it convinces the President it’s ok to use them. [7]
  3. AND there are reports that Trump’s ex-White House colleagues are seeking to profit by pressuring him to ditch a critical nuclear non-proliferation rule in order to sell US nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia — with absolutely no guarantee that technology won’t be used to build nuclear weapons. [8]

Yet despite the growing threat, the world has a terrifying false sense of security right now about the risks of nuclear proliferation.

We MUST raise an enormous ALARM before Trump and Bolton pull the world across a tipping point into a nightmare nuclear future, and we need your help to do that.

The scars of Hiroshima and Nagasaki SHOULD continue to haunt us. We SHOULD be terrified of this ever repeating. We must never forget that they were the result of years of policy, and politics, and people agreeing to build weapons that could devastate humanity. The legacy of those bombings must be an unending commitment to never let anything like them happen again. 

Thank you for working for peace,

Stephen, Erica, Ben, and the Win Without War team

[1] Arms Control Association
[2] Arms Control Association
[3] The American Conservative
[4] Wikipedia
[5] The New York Times
[6] Defense One
[7] Arms Control Association
[8] Daily Beast

Russian Nuclear-powered Missile Explodes, Creating a “Mini-Chernobyl”

Sean Gallagher / Ars

(August 12, 2019) — On August 8, during testing aboard a barge in the White Sea near Nyonoksa, Russia, the nuclear engine of an experimental nuclear-armed cruise missile exploded, killing two technicians and injuring six others. On August 11, officials of the Russian nuclear agency Rosatom acknowledged that five employees had died in the explosion of what they described as “an isotopic power source for a liquid engine installation.” The head of the nuclear research center, Valentin Kostyukov, called the five “national heroes.”

As of today, it is believed that the death toll has risen to seven. The victims were described as suffering from burns, and most were thrown into the sea by the explosion; they all likely suffered from radiation burns.

The nuclear-powered cruise-missile program was announced by Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin on March 1, 2018, during an address to the Federal Assembly. Putin described the weapon as a nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed cruise missile with essentially unlimited range, intended to defeat any ballistic missile defenses deployed by the United States.

Along with the Poseidon nuclear-powered torpedo, the missile—since named the 9M730 Burevestnik (“Petrel”)—was a response to the United States’ departure from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the continued development of ballistic missile defenses. Those defenses include the deployment of the US Navy’s Aegis anti-ballistic missile capabilities ashore in Romania and planned future deployment in Poland.

The Burevestnik (which NATO reports under the name of SSC-X-9 “Skyfall”) has been undergoing testing at Nyonoksa, in Russia’s far-northern Arkhangelsk Oblast, since at least January of this year. Nyonoska has been the site of testing for submarine-launched ballistic missiles and other naval missiles since the 1960s and is near Severodvinsk—home to the shipyard where Russia’s last aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, was severely damaged in a floating drydock accident. It is also the home to one of Russia’s nuclear-submarine shipyards, where the mothership for the Poseidon torpedo was recently launched. The accident caused a 30-minute spike in radiation levels detected in Severodvinsk.

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Rosatom officials’ description of the engine as “an isotopic power source for a liquid engine installation” is a fairly oblique reference to a nuclear-missile engine. But as the opposition paper Novaya Gazeta pointed out, “This is a fairly precise description of Burevestnik’s nuclear powerplant.” The Burevestnik’s propulsion is, according to Novaya Gazeta and other sources, a nuclear scramjet much like that originally envisioned for the US military’s SLAM program of the early 1960s. That effort, which aimed at building a hypersonic cruise missile capable of dropping multiple warheads while flying at low altitude, was shut down by the Kennedy administration because the weapon was seen as too provocative.

Unlike SLAM’s Tory nuclear engine, which relied on air passing directly through the nuclear core of the engine, the Burevestnik’s engine uses a liquid metal to both cool the reactor and transfer the heat to air passing through the scramjet. The US researched the use of metal and salt-cooled reactors for nuclear-powered jets and space-based nuclear reactors in the 1950s, but Russia soon took the lead, first deploying a lead-bismuth cooled reactor aboard the K-27 experimental submarine, launched in 1962.

Even with isolation of the nuclear reactor from direct contact with the air, however, the exhaust of such an engine would inevitably include some nuclear contamination—which is why Russia has been testing the Burevestnik offshore. It would be, as Novaya Gazeta described it, a “small flying Chernobyl.”

The five killed in the accident—Evgeny Koratayev, Vyacheslav Lipshev, Sergei Pichugin, Alexei Vyushin, and Vladislav Yanovsky—have been posthumously awarded unnamed state honors.

Translation of Novaya Gazeta provided by Robinson Mitchell

State funeral for Russian scientists killed in nuclear missile explosion.

Russia Says Radiation Levels Rose by 4-16 Times in City after Accident

Andrey Kuzmin and Tom Balmforth / Reuters

MOSCOW (August 13, 2019) — Radiation levels in the Russian city of Severodvinsk rose by up to 16 times on Aug. 8 after an accident that authorities said involved a rocket test on a sea platform, Russia’s state weather agency said on Tuesday, the TASS news agency reported. 

The defense ministry initially said background radiation had remained normal after the incident on Thursday, but city authorities in Severodvinsk in northern Russia said there had been a brief spike in radiation levels. 

Greenpeace has said radiation levels rose by 20 times. 

Russia’s state weather agency, Rosgidromet, said on Tuesday that it believed radiation levels had risen by four to 16 times.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.


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