(LiveScience) An explosion off Russia's Arctic coast has led to speculation that the incident resulted from a failed test of a nuclear-powered cruise missile. But do the details of the deadly blast point to such a weapon — one that no country has yet successfully created — and if so, what would that mean for global warfare?
Russian authorities have confirmed that five scientists were killed in the incident on a sea platform close to the coastal town of Nenoksa last Thursday (Aug. 8), but the country has released few details. The Russian Ministry of Defense initially said that the incident involved a liquid-fuel rocket engine and that no dangerous substances were released, but reports of a sudden rise in radiation levels in the nearby city Severodvinsk cast doubt on those claims.
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Russia watchers quickly linked the incident to the development of a nuclear-powered cruise missile called 9M730 Burevestnik, announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin last year, Reuters reported. And on Sunday (Aug. 11), an official at the state nuclear agency Rosatom admitted that the institute where the scientists were working was investigating nuclear power sources, according to another Reuters report.