A Russian minister said the recovery of the bodies of the 118 men who died on board the sunken Kursk nuclear subm
arine would begin next month. But he played down suggestions, backed on Tuesday by U.S. officials, that an exploding torpedo caused the disaster. Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov also said the lifting of the wreck of the submarine would begin in around one year and cost $100 million.
"The operation (to recover the bodies) will begin at the end of September and will be carried out by Norwegian and Russian divers," Klebanov told a news conference in Russia's second city, home to the agency which designed the Kursk. He said a Norwegian team would come to St Petersburg on Thursday to discuss how the operation can be carried out.
Russia says the cause of the disaster was a collision with a foreign submarine, which caused blasts on board. Western officials have strongly denied this and said the cause was an exploding faulty torpedo on board. U.S. officials on Tuesday said they had acoustical spy tapes which proved this theory. Klebanov denied that any new torpedoes were being tested and that those on board had been in service for 20 years and could not have exploded.