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Russian 'Doomsday Machine' Could Level US Cities

If it even exists
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2018 12:39 PM CST

(Newser)

"The detonation of Status-6 in any [large US port city] would essentially wipe out their population into the far suburbs," says a senior analyst with the National Institute for Public Policy. Status-6—a mysterious Russian nuclear weapon described in the Nuclear Posture Review released Friday by the Trump administration—is what NPR calls "a doomsday machine. Or at least a doomsday-ish machine." The report describes Status-6 as "a new intercontinental, nuclear-armed, nuclear-powered, undersea autonomous torpedo." The underwater drone could travel for years underwater and carry a nuclear payload larger than any current US or Russian weapon. While Russian state TV leaked an image of Status-6 in 2015, Friday's report is the first time the US has publicly acknowledged it, according to CNN.

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Russia would likely use Status-6 as a "third-strike" weapon if it's attacked by the US and unable to use its other nuclear missiles. However, it's also possible Status-6 doesn't exist. Edward Geist of the Rand Corp. says Russia may have simply enlarged a drawing of a normal torpedo "to get our attention." The Trump administration could have included it in the report to drum up support for its plan to strengthen the US nuclear arsenal. "There is no indication from public information that Russia is actively developing the system, but it is alarming to see it in a Pentagon document," says Adam Mount at the Federation of American Scientists. Elsewhere in the report, the US discusses plans to make new, smaller atomic bombs as a deterrent against Russia. The Russian foreign minister calls the plan "confrontational" and "anti-Russian," the BBC reports. (Read more nuclear weapons stories.)

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