WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO THE KURSK?

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Alexei Smirnov Novye Izvestia, April 6, 2001, p. 3

Scandinavian salvage companies may refuse to participate in the project to raise the Kursk if the Russian government is unwilling to guarantee that the sub was carrying no nuclear weapons

Scandinavian newspapers and TV channels have made a sensational statement: “There were nuclear weapons on board the nuclear submarine Kursk.” The channel TV2 set off this information bomb by its report concerning the Kursk disaster.

Grigory Tomchin, a member of the state commission for investigating the Kursk disaster, stated in an interview with that TV channel that the Kursk nuclear submarine carried nuclear weapons. He refused to elaborate. According to him the Kursk disaster might have had even more serious consequences.

Harald Ramfjord, a scientist of the Norwegian company Global Tool Management, which will take part in raising the Kursk this fall, confirmed Tomchinsky’s statement. According to him, when he studied technical documents given by the Russian Navy he saw a secret document according to which the Kursk carried two cruise missiles with nuclear warheads. Each of these cruise missiles has explosive potential equivalent to 34 of the type of nuclear bomb that exploded at Hiroshima. Russia assured Norway that the Kursk did not have nuclear weapons. The first official report was sent by the Navy to Norway three days after the disaster. Moscow continued to conceal the fact that the Kursk was equipped with nuclear missiles. That’s why the report circulated by the channel TV2 was such a surprise for the Norwegians. Norway stated that the Norwegian ambassador to Moscow was sent to ask Russian officials about this issue. Why did Moscow conceal the fact that the Kursk had nuclear weapons? This question worries Norwegian experts who do not believe Tomchin and Ramfiord. The Norwegian ecological organization Belluna doubts their statement: “Tomchin meant that the Kursk might have nuclear weapons: that does not mean the submarine had them.”

Belluna believes the official theory. The Soviet and Russian authorities did not hide that the Komsomolsk nuclear submarine and other sunken submarines did have nuclear weapons. Why do this with the Kursk?

Rear Admiral Einar Skurgen, who coordinated the salvage operation in 2000, thinks Moscow might tell lies about the Kursk.

He stated: “It is possible that Russia wanted to reduce the debates over the Kursk. That’s why Moscow might not announce that the Kursk had nuclear weapons.”

According to the admiral, he worked with Russian servicemen during the salvage operation and heard a lot of false rumors.

When asked why Russia decided to tell lies, the admiral who previously commanded armed forces in the north of Norway stated: “Russians think differently. They might hide the truth if it suits their interests. I have become sure of this through my frequent contacts with Russian military leaders.”

Neither Norwegian military, nor civilian officials are dramatizing the fact that the Kursk was equipped with nuclear missiles. The nuclear reactor installed on the submarine poses a more serious threat. However, if it turns out that the Kursk had nuclear weapons, Russia’s economic and political interests will be hurt seriously.

The Norwegian government paid $2 million for the salvage operation in the Barents Sea. Norway states it intends to continue cooperation with Moscow. Missiles on the Kursk could undermine Norway’s confidence in Moscow.

It is more dangerous if Norwegian companies refuse to take part in raising the Kursk. Harald Ramfiord has already stated that it is unlikely that his company would take part in the salvage operation if the Kursk does have nuclear missiles.

He said: “If Russia does not guarantee that the Kursk does not have nuclear missiles we will not take part in this project. I think that the other companies involved in the project will also refuse to raise the Kursk.”

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