President Vladimir Putin said there’s no risk from the explosion at a Russian military facility that caused a radiation spike and killed at least five people.
“There’s no threat there and no increase in the background” radiation following the blast, Putin said Monday, in his first comments on the Aug. 8 explosion on an offshore platform in the White Sea near Arkhangelsk. Experts including independent analysts are working at the site and “preventative measures are being taken so that there aren’t any surprises,” Putin told reporters at the start of talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in France.
Those who died or were injured in the accident were performing the “most important national tasks” and will be awarded state medals, Putin said.
The Aug. 8 blast killed five atomic scientists during a test of a missile engine that used “isotope power sources,” the state nuclear monopoly Rosatom said.
A tweet from U.S. President Donald Trump appeared to confirm speculation in Russian media that the incident involved the SSC-X-9 Skyfall, known in Russia as the Burevestnik, a nuclear-powered cruise missile that Putin introduced to the world during his state-of-the-nation address last year.
Radiation levels in the port city of Severodvinsk, near the site of the failed test, reached as high as 16 times normal immediately following the incident before declining, according to the state meteorological service. The maximum reported level of radiation would be on a par with a dental x-ray, according to Jonathan Cobb, a spokesman for the World Nuclear Association.
Separately, Putin linked the surge in protests in Moscow to the electoral cycle in Russia and defended the decision to exclude opposition candidates from city council elections, saying they broke registration rules. Protesters who violated the law should be brought to justice, he said, noting that anti-government demonstrations in France had been much more violent and he didn’t want to see that in Russia.