Russia could be preparing to resume Nuclear-powered Cruise Missile Testing


Satellite images are indicating that Russia is in preparation for resuming the nuclear-powered cruise missile test flights. That’s as far as experts who have analyzed the new satellite images. The testing area is the Pankovo launch site around the Arctic Circle that it dismantled before.

In September, Planet Labs captured the images. They showed a lot of activities happening on the site. The concern is that it was once the test site for the nuclear-powered cruise missile by the name Burevestnik. The findings are from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies researchers Michael Duitsman and Jeffrey Lewis.

According to the pair, the missile testing pause that Russia took in 2018 seems to have ended. They base the argument on the various activities, including new construction, including the launch pad’s rebuilding. Equally important, there has been a probable missile checkout building and many shipping containers in a pair of support areas.

According to the duo, Russia carried out a similar test flight from the same launch site in November 2017. After that, it carried out an array of similar tests for months. However, it did not register any successful test.

Claims about new construction are based on a video that Russian President Vladimir Putin released in March 2018. It was about a nuclear-powered cruise missile test, and comparing it with the new satellite images; there is a noticeable change.

Two U.S. officials commented on that, saying they are aware that in efforts to improve its advanced weapons program, Russia is preparing to resume nuclear-powered Cruise Missile Testing. Steps on the same include the Oniks cruise missile launch from Arctic’s military base and the White Sea’s test of a hypersonic cruise missile. Russian Ministry of Defense is yet to comment on the new findings.

At the moment, both Moscow and Washington are considering the extension of a key arms control agreement. The START treaty will expire in less than a year. The stagnation of the talk was evident from Marshall Billingslea’s, the top U.S. negotiator, tweet. However, hope was restored when Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the country is willing to pause its nuclear arsenals if that’s the only requirement that U.S. will table for the New START extension. The U.S. is also coming forward through the State Department spokesperson to say that the country is ready to meet and finalize the same as soon as possible under the new Russia’s condition.

According to reliable sources, Trump is eager to close a nuclear deal with Russia not later than the November election. His wish was to involve China, but that seems impossible as China keeps rejecting such talks.

Lewis says that the extension of the New START treaty is crucial to some extent. As much as it might not stop the nuclear-powered cruise missile testing since it is not part of the agreement, its absence would see the two countries begin an arms race.


By Christopher Stern

Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, and other federal agencies. He is a graduate of Middlebury College.
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