Russia Testing Nuclear Torpedo That Could Trigger Radioactive Tsunamis Off US Coast
A nuclear torpedo being tested by Russian military is causing concern among Western officials as it could cause radioactive tsunamis to hit cities along the US coastline.
A ‘key stage’ of testing for the torpedo is said to have already taken place, prompting Russian President Vladimir Putin to request an update on the progress from his defense minister Sergei Shoigu in February.
Powered by a nuclear reactor, the torpedo is intended to ‘deliver a warhead of multiple megatons’, according to Russian officials cited by CNN.
The weapon has been suggested to be 20 metres long and is designed to sneak past coastal defences and cause radioactive waves that would render affected areas uninhabitable for decades, in a similar manner to the way the Chernobyl nuclear explosion forced residents to evacuate and abandon the surrounding area.
Further tests are reportedly set to take place this year, and Western officials have expressed their concerns about what the development of the weapon may mean for their countries, with Christopher A. Ford, then-assistant secretary of state for International Security and Non-Proliferation, saying in November that it could ‘inundate Us coastal cities with radioactive tsunamis’.
While the weapon may sound like it belongs in a disaster movie, experts have said that it is ‘very real’.
Vice Admiral Nils Andreas Stensønes, the head of Norwegian intelligence, told CNN his agency has determined the torpedo to be ‘part of the new type of nuclear deterrent weapons’.
Stensønes acknowledged the weapon is in its testing phase, but added: ‘It’s a strategic system and it’s aimed at targets… and has an influence far beyond the region in which they test it currently.’
On Monday, April 5, the Pentagon assured it was ‘very closely’ monitoring reports of Russian military activities and infrastructure build-ups in the Arctic.
In a briefing, Pentagon press secretary John F. Kirby said he would not get into ‘specific intelligence assessments’, but that authorities were ‘obviously’ watching the situation.
He added: ‘As I said before, we have national security interests there that we know… we need to protect and defend. And as I said, nobody’s interested in seeing the Arctic become militarized.’
On the same day, Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti, cited a source that said tests for a submarine specifically developed to be armed with the torpedo would be completed in September.
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