Russia Has a Message for Nuclear Monitors

Russian officials are keeping mum after a recent mystery blast
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2019 2:50 PM CDT
Russia to Nuclear Monitors: Go Bother Someone Else
In this photo taken on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018, residents dressed in folk costumes walk through a street during a folk festival in the village of Nyonoksa, northwestern Russia.   (AP Photo/Sergei Yakovlev)

To international monitors, Russia has one word: nyet. The Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization is seeking information on monitoring sites that went offline in the days after a mysterious explosion recently rocked the nation's far north, Reuters reports; some suspect their status could mean Russia meddled with the stations. But Russian officials say the Aug. 8 blast—which killed nuclear workers and spiked nearby radiation levels—isn't the CTBTO's business. "It's essential to keep in mind that handing over data from our national stations which are part of the international monitoring system is entirely voluntary for any country," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Tuesday.

Amid suspicions that Russia was testing a nuclear-powered cruise missile, analysts tell the Moscow Times that officials there likely wanted to keep secrets from the US and other rivals. "I think this is more related to counterintelligence activities; not nuclear, but national security," a nuclear analyst tells the paper. Another says the four stations, which belong to the CTBTO but are run by Russia, may have gone quiet so the Kremlin could keep information about isotopes involved in the accident a secret. Either way, one of the sensors is running again and the CTBTO isn't talking publicly, per NBC News. (See what Norway detected after the explosion.)

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