The Kremlin says secret plans for a Russian long-range nuclear torpedo – called “Status-6” – should not have appeared on Russian TV news.
The leak happened during a report on state-run Channel One about President Vladimir Putin meeting military chiefs in the city of Sochi.
One general was seen studying a diagram of the “devastating” torpedo system.
Launched by a submarine, it would create “wide areas of radioactive contamination”, the document says.
The “oceanic multi-purpose Status-6 system” is designed to “destroy important economic installations of the enemy in coastal areas and cause guaranteed devastating damage to the country’s territory by creating wide areas of radioactive contamination, rendering them unusable for military, economic or other activity for a long time”, the document says.
“It’s true some secret data got into the shot, therefore it was subsequently deleted,” said Mr Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
“In future we will undoubtedly take preventive measures so this does not happen again.”
The US Defence Department said it had seen the report, but would not comment further.
“We are aware of the video footage, but defer to the Russian navy as to its authenticity,” a Pentagon spokesperson told the BBC.
However, the Russian government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta later reporteddetails of the weapon, without showing the diagram, and speculated about a super-radioactive cobalt device. So the leak may not have been accidental.
On the diagram the giant torpedo’s range is given as “up to 10,000km” (6,200 miles) and depth of trajectory is “up to 1,000m” (3,300ft).
It was developed by Rubin, a submarine design bureau in St Petersburg.
It would, apparently, be launched by nuclear-powered submarines of the 09852 “Belgorod” and 09851 “Khabarovsk” series.
Rossiiskaya Gazeta called the torpedo a “robotic mini-submarine”, travelling at 100 knots (185km/h; 115mph), which would “avoid all acoustic tracking devices and other traps”.
Just before the torpedo diagram came into view in the state TV report, Mr Putin could be heard telling the generals that the US and its Nato allies were forging ahead with a global anti-missile defence system “unfortunately ignoring our concerns and our offers of co-operation”.
He said the Western defence project was “an attempt to undermine the existing parity in strategic nuclear weapons and essentially to upset the whole system of global and regional stability”.
In June Mr Putin said Russia would put more than 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles into service this year. (BBC World)