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Putin says scientists died in rocket blast worked on unequalled weapon

Christian Fernsby |
The nuclear scientists killed in a blast at a secret military range in northern Russia were developing a unique weapon critical for the country’s sovereignty, President Vladimir Putin said.

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Widows of the scientists killed after a secretive missile engine test went awry in the Arkhangelsk region in August, were invited to the Kremlin on Thursday. Putin handed them their husbands’ posthumous Orders of Courage and expressed his condolences.

“They were working on a very difficult, important and critical assignment,” Putin said in his eulogy to the late scientists, said to be some of the best specialists in the field.

The possession of such technology by Russia is “the most important, reliable guarantee of peace on the planet. And, no matter what, we’ll certainly keep improving this weaponry,” the president promised.

A massive blast rocked an offshore platform at a secret military range in northern Arkhangelsk Region on August 8. The accident, which occurred during the testing of an “isotope power source” for the experimental “liquid-propellant [missile] engine,” took the lives of seven people. Five of them were employees of Russia’s nuclear agency, Rosatom, and two others were from the Defense Ministry.

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