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‘We are fulfilling the task of the motherland’: Russians killed in missile test blast were working on ‘new weapons’

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Russia’s nuclear agency chief on Monday confirmed that five scientists killed last week were developing “new weapons” and vowed to continue testing despite the explosion.

The accident took place at an Arctic military facility on the coast of the White Sea on Thursday, but Russian authorities only admitted its nuclear nature on Saturday.

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The explosion caused a spike in radiation levels.

US experts have said it could be linked to testing of the “Burevestnik” cruise missile, touted by President Vladimir Putin earlier this year.

As a memorial service was held for the scientists on Monday, the head of nuclear agency Rosatom said their efforts would continue.

“The best (thing) for their memory will be our further work on the new weapons,” Alexei Likhachev was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

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“We are fulfilling the task of the motherland, its security will be reliably ensured.”

Rosatom said this weekend that its staff were providing engineering and technical support for the “isotope power source” of a missile.

The missile was being tested on a platform at sea when its fuel caught fire and caused an explosion, it said. Several staff were blown into the sea by the blast.

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The Russian military announced the death of two “specialists” after the explosion but it is not known if they were among the five scientists whose deaths were announced by Rosatom.

Three other people were injured in the accident, suffering burns, according to the nuclear agency.

The military did not initially say that the accident involved nuclear equipment, stressing that radiation levels were normal afterwards.

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But the nearby city of Severodvinsk recorded elevated levels following the accident and panicked residents rushed to buy iodine to counteract radiation.

– ‘Real heroes’ –

In a state of the nation address earlier this year Putin announced the development of what he called “invincible” missiles, threatening to deploy them against “decision-making centres” in Western countries if there were serious threats against Russia.

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Experts have linked the blast to the 9M730 Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile, known by NATO as SSC-X-9 Skyfall.

Putin said in February that tests on the Burevestnik were going successfully.

The accident took place at the Nyonoksa test site on the White Sea, used for testing missiles deployed in nuclear submarines and ships since the Soviet era.

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A memorial service for the scientists was held Monday in the closed city of Sarov, 500 kilometres (300 miles) east of Moscow.

Sergei Kiriyenko, the deputy head of Putin’s administration and a former nuclear chief, called the victims “real heroes” at the ceremony.

He said that while conducting the tests the scientists took on physical risks “which, unfortunately, however much you prepare, cannot be completely avoided.”

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During the Cold War, Sarov was a top-secret city known as Arzamas-16. The centre produced the Soviet Union’s first nuclear weapons.

It is still a closed city accessible only with special passes.

Last month, 14 Russian navy officers were killed in a fire on a top-secret nuclear-powered submersible in circumstances that have not been fully revealed.

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The incident comes with fears of a new arms race after Moscow and Washington withdrew earlier this year from the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Trump claimed North Korea missile testing ‘would stop’ — but they just launched again: report

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The upcoming G7 summit meeting in Bairritz, France will have one more issue to grapple with after North Korea reportedly conducted missile tests.

"South Korea's military confirms that North Korea has launched a projectile this morning. From South Hamgyong Province. Japan's government reported it first," Voice of America Seoul bureau chief William Gallo Tweeted Friday.

"North Korea has now conducted nine rounds of launches since early May. But this one's notable because it comes after Trump says Kim promised "this testing would stop when the exercises end." They did end Tuesday. And yet..." he noted.

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Trump is ‘having a full-blown mental breakdown’ and needs to resign: Ex-Trump staffer

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Leading Republican elected officials should work with President Donald Trump's family to negotiate him resigning from office, a former top White House official suggested on MSNBC on Friday.

Former White House press secretary Anthony Scaramucci blasted his former boss during an interview with Chuck Todd on MSNBC's "Meet the Press Daily."

"He has totally and completely lost it. There is nobody that can look at the situation, read the tweets, look at the press sprays, and say he hasn’t lost it," Scaramucci argued.

"What does that mean, lost it?" Todd asked. "Define that."

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Obama’s chief economist warns of ‘a very high chance’ Trump’s trade war could cause 2020 recession

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The former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama warned of "a very high chance" of Trump's trade war with China resulting in a recession -- "just in time for 2020."

Austan Goolsbee was interviewed by MSNBC's John Heilemann on Friday after the DJIA closed down over 600 points after the trade war escalated on Friday.

"Just give us, if you would, Austan, your sense of what has unfolded today and how bad it is," Heilemann asked.

"Yes, it’s terrible, I'm phoning from a bunker as we speak," Goolsbee replied.

"There hasn’t been a day like this in a very long time. Yes, the markets sell a lot but the fact we’re going to have an escalating trade war, the president of the United States is publicly declaring the head of the Fed an enemy of the state and, oh, by the way, 40% of the Amazon is on fire and Ruth Bader Ginsburg is being treated for pancreatic cancer," he continued. "If this is on a Friday, it makes it bad for Monday."

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