3 US diplomats held near Russian test site where mystery blast killed five

The exploded Burevestnik missile was a next-generation prototype weapon which is both nuclear-powered and nuclear-tipped and capable of staying aloft indefinitely and probing enemy defences before striking.

The malfunction and subsequent blast caused the death of five scientists and today three US military attaches were held in Russia on a train close to the remote town where a missile test took place.

The trio were named as US Embassy Navy Attache First Rank Captain William Whitsitt Curtis, US Embassy Attache Gerry Arriola Anthony and US Embassy Attache Colonel DS Dann.

The Burevestnik missile – which is referred to by NATO as SSC-X-9 Skyfall – is regarded as a doomsday weapon.

They were detained two days ago on a train en route from Nyonoksa to Severodvisnk, according to REN TV.

They were accused of violating the rules of their stay in Russia which forbids travel to restricted zones without prior permission.

A report today said the three had been later released after a document check – preventing a major diplomatic incident.

It was unclear how long they were held.

“While in Severodvinsk, access to which is restricted for foreign nationals, they were unable to produce documents necessary for visiting the city,” said the REN TV report.

Other reports suggested they were held in Severodvinsk.

An earlier US intelligence assessment found that the explosion on August 8 in the sea off Nyonoksa came during a recovery mission to salvage a lost Burevestnik  missile from the beneath the surface.

This nuclear-powered missile – capable of flying for days on end as it probes weaknesses in Western defences – is reported to be ready to go to war by…

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