US believes Russian explosion was connected with cruise missile programme - senior official

In Summary

• Five scientists were buried in the closed city of Sarov on Monday

US President-elect Donald Trump.
US President-elect Donald Trump.
Image: REUTERS

The United States believes last week's deadly explosion in Russia was associated with the Kremlin's hypersonic cruise missile programme, a senior Trump administration official said on Tuesday.

Five scientists were buried in the closed city of Sarov on Monday after what state nuclear agency Rosatom said was an accident during a rocket test on a sea platform off northern Russia.

The U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Washington was not prepared to say at this point whether it was a nuclear explosion but believed it did involve radioactive elements.

 

The explosion could represent a potentially significant setback to the Russian programme although it remained unclear whether it was caused by a launching failure, the official told reporters.

Russian attempts to develop hypersonic cruise missiles raised questions about whether the so-called New Start nuclear agreement, which is due to expire in early 2021, should be extended for five years, the official added.