According to the New York Times, Russia is possibly getting ready to test an experimental cruise missile fuelled by nuclear energy with a range of up to 14,000 miles.
Movements of planes and vehicles at and close to a site in distant Arctic Russia are consistent with preparations for the missile’s Burevestnik or SSC-X-9 Skyfall test launches in 2017 and 2018.
According to The Times, it is still unknown if the missile has already been tested or will be soon. For the past two weeks, the U.S. has been operating surveillance planes close to the base, a little uptick in activity that may be cause for alarm on the part of Washington.
The Burevestnik was unveiled in 2018 as a new line of nuclear weapons that could travel farther and more quickly. However, little is known about it, including its design.
According to a study from the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a non-profit organization specializing in weapons control, Russia has previously carried out 13 known tests between 2017 and 2019, all of which were failures. In August 2019, a mishap involving the experimental nuclear-powered missile resulted in the deaths of five scientists.
However, if subsequent tests are successful and the weapon is added to Moscow’s arsenal, the Burevestnik, also known as the RS-SSC-X-09 Skyfall in the West, would provide Russia an exceptionally long-range intercontinental ballistic missile.
Early this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin suspended the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, a deal between the United States and Russia to exchange information on nuclear weapons testing and restrict the amount of warheads and bombs in their arsenals.
In a speech in 2018, Mr. Putin unveiled six strategic weapons, including the Burevestnik, the Kinzhal ballistic missile, and the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle. He said that the weapons were capable of defeating and outwitting current American defenses.