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SEPTEMBER 2020

U.S. Attempts To Pressure Russian Hypersonics Over Alleged Radiation Leak

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U.S. Attempts To Pressure Russian Hypersonics Over Alleged Radiation Leak

Image by H.I. Sutton. Click to see full-size image.

The recent radiation leak could have been a result of two of Russia’s new hypersonic weapons – the Poseidon and the Burevestnik (Skyfall), Forbes reported in a piece authored by H.I. Sutton.

On June 23rd, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) revealed that scientists in Sweden had detected higher than usual levels of radiation. Based on analysis of the weather, the origin was projected to be in Northern Russia.

Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo tweeted that they had detected “3 isotopes; Cs-134, Cs-137 & Ru-103 associated w/Nuclear fission.” He went on to say that “These isotopes are most likely from a civil source.” and that it is “outside the CTBTO’s mandate to identify the exact origin.”

The US Envoy for Arms Control Marshall S. Billingslea wasted no time to share the piece, saying that both weapons are “terrible concepts.”

The report was proof that Russia should give on the project and that they’re a “big waste of money.”

Most notably, the current New START doesn’t cover them, and the next one must do so.

Tom Moore, a nuclear policy expert and former senior professional staff member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, believes that these military reactors cannot be ruled out:

“CTBTO radionuclide monitoring is intended to discriminate explosive events and to complement seismic monitoring. Not to effectively rule in or rule out a source of radionuclides as being civil or military reactors.”

Russia denied the allegations, and the Rosenergoatom Concern said that the two nuclear power plants in northwestern Russia – the Leningrad NPP and the Kola NPP – operate normally, with radiation levels being within the norm.

“Both stations are working in normal regime. There have been no complaints about the equipment’s work. Aggregated emissions of all specified isotopes in the above-mentioned period did not exceed the reference numbers. No incidents related to release of radionuclide outside containment structures have been reported,” the company said.

Sutton’s report says that it is possible that the alleged leaks came from the weapons, while the CTBTO make no claims.

“Radiation levels at both NPPs and surrounding areas remained unchanged in June, and no changes are also observed at present. It remains at levels that correspond to normal work of reactors. Those levels do not exceed natural background radiation figures,” Rosenergoatom said, adding that no incidents have been reported at the Leningrad and Kola NPPs.

The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) in the Netherlands reported that the concentration of substances was very low and did not present any threat to human health and the environment. The same was stated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Finally, the Kremlin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that there was no cause for concern over reports of increased background radiation in Northern Europe.

He recalled the above-mentioned statement by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that a slight increase in the concentration of radioactive substances is not harmful to human health and the environment.

Despite that, the US Envoy for Arms Control Marshall S. Billingslea immediately propagated Sutton’s report as factual, and not as coming down to speculation, as the text itself says that it is.

This is simply another attempt for the US to grasp at straws, since the time to conclude a new arms control treaty is nearing, and Washington needs every possible benefit it can get.

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