Russian President Vladimir Putin observes the victory parade on Red Square on May 9, 2019 in Moscow (Russia).
Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images News | Getty Images
WASHINGTON – A US intelligence report found that the mysterious explosion off the north coast of Russia took place during a salvage mission to rescue a nuclear-powered missile from the seabed, people directly familiar with the report said.
] The mysterious explosion on 8 August killed five scientists and sparked fears that Russia had tested its new nuclear-powered Burevestnik rocket, also called skyfall.
"This was not a weapon restart, but a salvage mission to rescue a lost missile from an earlier test," said a person with direct knowledge of US intelligence ratings. "There was an explosion on one of the salvage vessels that caused a reaction in the core of the missile that led to the emission of radiation," said another person speaking to CNBC on condition of anonymity.
The US Intelligence Report did not mention any potential health or environmental risks that could result from damaging the missile's nuclear reactor.
CNBC learned last year from Moscow's similar preparations to recover a nuclear missile lost at sea. The crew tried to recover a rocket that had landed in the Barents Sea after a failed test. The operation involved three ships, one of which was equipped to transport radioactive material from the core of the weapon. If the Russians were to regain possession of the missile, US intelligence analysts expected Moscow to use the process as a blueprint for future salvage operations.
Read more: Russia prepares to search for a nuclear power plant ̵
Last March, Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed a series of supersonic weapons as well Burevestnik and said it was a nuclear-powered rocket with unlimited range. However, the Kremlin has not yet conducted a successful weapon test over several trials, as sources with direct knowledge of a US intelligence report on the weapons program prove.
Burevestnik tested once and before this year The weapon was tested four times between November 2017 and February 2018, each resulting in a crash.
The US found that the longest test flight lasted only more than two minutes. The missile flew 22 miles before losing control and falling. The shortest test took four seconds and flew five miles.
The tests apparently showed that the nuclear-powered heart of the cruise missile did not fire and the weapon was therefore unable to reach the vague flight Putin boasted about.
In addition, CNBC learned in March that the Kremlin will produce only a few of these weapons because the program has not yet passed a successful test and is too expensive for development.