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Russia conducts successful Test of Nuclear-Powered Missile; Putin signaled Treaty withdrawal

Moscow, Russia, October 06:  Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Thursday that Russia has achieved a milestone in its military capabilities with the successful test of an experimental nuclear-powered cruise missile. The president also raised the possibility of Russia withdrawing from a global treaty prohibiting nuclear tests.

Speaking at a forum of foreign policy experts, President Putin revealed that Russia has reached a critical stage in the development of the Burevestnik nuclear-powered global-range cruise missile and the Sarmat heavy intercontinental ballistic missile, signaling that they are now ready for production.

“We have recently completed the latest successful test of the Burevestnik nuclear-powered global-range cruise missile,” stated Putin without divulging further details. This disclosure marked the first official acknowledgment of a successful Burevestnik test, a project initially introduced by Putin in 2018.

The Burevestnik, known as “Skyfall” by NATO, has remained shrouded in secrecy. Western experts have voiced skepticism about its reliability, given the complexities of a nuclear engine. The missile is believed to have the capacity to carry both nuclear and conventional warheads and boasts extended flight durations and ranges, courtesy of its nuclear propulsion system.

In his 2018 state-of-the-nation address, President Putin claimed that the Burevestnik could have an unlimited range, enabling it to circumnavigate the globe undetected by existing missile defense systems. However, doubts persist among observers who express concerns about its manageability and potential environmental consequences.

Notably, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union pursued nuclear-powered rocket engines during the Cold War but eventually abandoned the projects due to safety risks.

The Burevestnik made headlines in August 2019 when an explosion occurred during testing at a Russian naval facility on the White Sea, resulting in the tragic loss of five nuclear engineers and two servicemen. The incident briefly escalated radiation concerns in the nearby area.

It has been reported that Russia has employed the Arctic Novaya Zemlya archipelago, historically associated with Soviet nuclear tests, to establish facilities for Burevestnik testing.

President Putin’s remarks also touched upon the status of international nuclear testing treaties. He pointed out that the United States has signed but not ratified the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, while Russia has both signed and ratified it. In a surprising turn, he suggested that Russia might reconsider its stance.

“Theoretically, we may revoke the ratification,” Putin declared, raising concerns that Russia could potentially resume nuclear testing in response to geopolitical tensions. This comes amidst growing apprehension that Russia might employ such actions to dissuade Western support for Ukraine in light of recent military involvement.

However, Putin stated that he has not yet reached a conclusion on the necessity of nuclear tests, asserting, “I’m not ready to say yet whether it’s necessary for us to conduct tests or not.”

Russia’s defense doctrine presently includes the possibility of a nuclear response to an atomic attack or even conventional threats deemed existential to the state. Some Russian experts have suggested that Moscow should clarify its stance to compel the West to take its warnings more seriously, including the prospect of limited nuclear strikes on NATO allies in Europe.

In response to questions about potential adjustments to Russian nuclear doctrine, Putin maintained, “There is no situation in which anything would threaten Russian statehood and the existence of the Russian state.”

Despite these discussions, Putin concluded, “I think that no person of sober mind and clear memory could have an idea to use nuclear weapons against Russia”.

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