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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Says U.S. Submarine Observed Nuclear Launches

Russia has complained to the United States about a mysterious submarine incident that occurred in December in the Barents Sea as the Russian navy was destroying ballistic missiles under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

On Dec. 3 and 4, a submerged Russian Typhoon class submarine launched 20 intercontinental ballistic missiles as part of a destruction routine under the arms control treaty.

The missiles, which did not carry nuclear warheads, were blown up about 30 seconds after launch at an altitude of about three kilometers, Russian officials said.

The Russians had announced the planned destruction, which is unusual; missiles are usually taken apart and cut up. Russian officials said the explosion method would be cheaper.

The Russian officials said the destruction was observed by seven U.S. inspectors aboard an anchored hydrographic vessel.

But the Russians complained to the U.S. Embassy here that another submerged submarine appeared on the scene. They say it was an American Los Angeles class submarine, apparently gathering data about the launches.

A senior Russian navy official said the visiting sub was within seven kilometers of the Typhoon. A Russian vessel signaled the submarine to get out of the way. It did not respond.

After that, a helicopter dropped depth charges which were detonated, and the sub left, the official said.

The U.S. Navy refused to comment on the sighting. But officials indicated that the submarine was not American. The Russian officials said they were sure it was a U.S. submarine.