The existence of a new submarine-launched nuclear torpedo was “accidentally” revealed by Russian state-controlled TV on Wednesday, the Kremlin insisting the broadcast should never have been made. In what observers are dismissing as a hackneyed piece of propaganda, the video, which aired on two channels heavily policed by the Kremlin, is being viewed as a deliberate mishap designed to trouble the West.
A document, revealed on NTV and Channel One, was filmed over a general's shoulder during a meeting with Vladimir Putin, and included the details of a weapons system called Status-6. According to the BBC, the system includes nuclear submarines carrying long-range underwater torpedoes to create "extensive zones of radioactive contamination" that would render coastal areas "unsuitable for military, economic, business or other activity for a long time."
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov admitted on Wednesday that “some secret information was caught by the camera,” which was why the clip was later removed. "We hope this will not happen again," he added.
However, the video convinced few security experts. "I have a feeling it was shown in order to scare the world," Alexander Golts, an independent Moscow-based military analyst, told AP. "It's an attempt to offer an asymmetrical answer to the US missile defense."
US politician Rob Bishop was equally suspicious. "I don't think Putin does anything by accident, and that’s what sounds fishy," he reflected. "I think this was leaked for an impact and to try to send a message to the United States."
A nuclear torpedo was first mooted in the 1950s, with nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov proposing attacking the US by creating radioactive tsunamis to contaminate the enemy’s coastline. Pavel Felgenhauer, an independent military analyst, told AP, the new system is an update on Sakharov’s idea. "The plan is to deliver a 100-megaton nuclear bomb to the US shores," he told the agency. "It would cause a highly radioactive tsunami."