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Russia's top nuclear official promises 'new models of weapons' following explosions and radiation spike
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's top nuclear official promised on Monday to succeed in developing new weapons as he paid tribute to five scientists killed in what U.S. experts suspect was the botched test of a new missile vaunted by President Vladimir Putin.
The five scientists were buried in the closed city of Sarov on Monday. They died last Thursday in what state nuclear agency Rosatom has said was an accident during a rocket test on a sea platform off northern Russia.
The defense ministry initially said background radiation had remained normal, but a spike in radiation levels recorded in a nearby city prompted U.S.-based nuclear experts to suspect the failed test involved a nuclear-powered cruise missile.
The experts said they suspected the radiation release resulted from a mishap during the testing of the Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile.
The Burevestnik was one of an array of new strategic weapons touted by Putin last year. Tensions between Moscow and Washington over arms control have been exacerbated by the demise this month of a landmark nuclear treaty.
The Kremlin has not commented on the accident.
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter on Monday the United States was "learning much" from the explosion.
"The Russian 'Skyfall' explosion has people worried about the air around the facility, and far beyond. Not good!" Trump said, using the NATO alliance's name for the Burevestnik.
At memorial events in Sarov that included a gun salute, Rosatom head Alexei Likhachev praised the deceased nuclear experts as the "pride of the country" and the "pride of the atomic sector".
"The best tribute to them will be our continued work on new models of weapons, which will definitely be carried out to the end," Likhachev was quoted as saying by RIA news agency
In a video interview published late on Sunday, an official at the scientists' research institute in Sarov did not spell out exactly what they had been doing, but suggested that they had been working on a small nuclear reactor.
The official, Vyacheslav Solovyev, said the institute was working on "sources of thermal or electric energy using radioactive materials, including fissile materials and radioisotope materials".
He said "these developments are also actually happening in many countries. The Americans last year ... also tested a small-scale reactor ... Our centre also continues to work in this direction".
The institute's work serves both civilian and military ends, he said.
The city administration in Sarov, which is around 400 km (250 miles) east of Moscow, announced two days of mourning, saying the experts died while "performing a task of national importance," RIA reported.
Rosatom named the five dead scientists as Alexei Vyushin, Evgeny Koratayev, Vyacheslav Lipshev, Sergei Pichugin and Vladislav Yanovsky.
'Elite' of nuclear center
Valentin Kostyukov, head of the nuclear center, which is part of Rosatom, said the test had been preceded by a year of careful work and a state commission was investigating what went wrong.
The nuclear experts battled to control the situation, but were unable to prevent the accident, Kostyukov said. He called them "national heroes" and said the institute had asked for them to be given posthumous state awards.
"These people were the elite of the Russian Federal Nuclear Centre and have tested under some of the most incredibly difficult conditions," he added.
Rosatom said on Saturday the rocket test was carried out on a sea platform and that a rocket's fuel had caught fire after the test, causing it to detonate, Russia's RIA news agency reported.
Though the Defence Ministry initially said no change in radiation was detected after the explosion, local officials in the nearby city of Severodvinsk said radiation had briefly spiked, without saying how high.
Anxious local residents stocked up on iodine, used to reduce the effects of radiation exposure.
Moscow has a history of secrecy over major accidents, most notably after a 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the then-Soviet republic of Ukraine - now regarded as the worst nuclear accident in history.
A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.
At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.
Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."
Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.
The Navy could deploy a second carrier to the Middle East if Trump orders an Iran surge, top admiral says
The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.
Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.
I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.
Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.
An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps
"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."
Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.
At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.
Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.
"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."
She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."
It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.
The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.
But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.
The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.