Monday, August 26, 2019

Moscow Shuts Down Nuclear Test Monitoring Sites after Accident in Severodvinsk

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 24 – Moscow officials used the August 8 accident in Severodvinsk which saw the release of a significant amount of radiation as the occasion to shut down most of the nuclear test monitoring sites it maintains with foreign assistance across Russia. “This was no accident,” experts say.

            After the accident, Moscow did what it could to conceal “the true extent” of the accident, they tell Deutsche Welle; and their suspicions about Moscow’s actions were only intensified this past week when it was discovered that “five control stations of the international system of monitoring nuclear tests in Russia have ceased to work” (взрыв-в-северодвинске-кремль-скрывает-не-радиацию-а-технологию/a-50121717).

            Initially, Russian officials said there were only problems with communications between these statins and the Vienna headquarters of the body that monitors fulfillment of ban on nuclear tests. Then, these officials said any information from Russian sites was being supplied on a “completely voluntary” basis.

            But Western experts in Vienna and elsewhere say that closing these monitoring sites means that outsiders have less information about the extent of the spread of radiation from Severodvinsk, an indication that the August 8 accident was far worse than Moscow has been willing to acknowledge.

            They say such a conclusion is all the more likely given that the Russian government did not stop reporting from the two additional Russian monitoring sites in the Far East, a region thousands of miles from Severodvinsk and one to which radiation from the accident there is unlikely to have spread.

            What makes this latest Russian action especially unfortunate, Deutsche Welle says, is that it is a clear violation of an agreement Moscow has signed, it limits the world’s ability to monitor developments in North Korea and Iran, and it has occurred at places the Russian site is receiving international financing to operate.

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