Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief Nikolai Yevmenov arrive to attend a parade of the Russian fleet. Officials in Russia originally said that the explosion took place on a boat.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief Nikolai Yevmenov arrive to attend a parade of the Russian fleet. Officials in Russia originally said that the explosion took place on a boat.

At least seven people are dead in the Russian city of Sarov after a mysterious explosion. After a disinformation campaign, the Russian government confirmed the deaths happened at a military test site.

The American government now suspects that the blast, which occurred last Thursday, was caused by a nuclear weapons test, according to The New York Times

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But United States intelligence officials have said they suspect the blast involved a prototype of what NATO calls the SSC-X-9 Skyfall. That is a cruise missile that Mr. Putin has boasted can reach any corner of the earth because it is partially powered by a small nuclear reactor, eliminating the usual distance limitations of conventionally fueled missiles.

CNN reported that Sarov is one of Russia’s “secret cities.”

Closed to foreigners and accessible only by special permit, Sarov is the rough equivalent to Los Alamos, New Mexico, one of the birthplaces of US nuclear weapons design. Severodvinsk [a port near Sarov] has a naval base and shipyard and TASS, citing emergency services, initially said the incident began onboard a ship.

What’s behind this explosion? What does this event mean about Russia’s nuclear weapons capability?

Produced by Haili Blassingame.

Guests

  • Ankit Panda Adjunct senior fellow, the Defense Posture Project, the Federation of American Scientists; @nktpnd
  • Susan Glasser Staff writer, The New Yorker; global affairs analyst, CNN; former Moscow Co-Bureau chief, the Washington Post; @sbg1

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