Some additional details of the history of ‘Novichok’ nerve agents have come to light.
Details on ‘Novichok’ nerve agents were published in a 2007 book by Vil Mirzayanaov, a Soviet scientist offered asylum in the United States.
After the publication the U.S. and the UK actively suppressed international discussions about the book and the ‘Novichok’ chemical weapon agents. Documents from the U.S. State Department published by Wikileaks show that then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton directed her diplomats to not talk about Novichok and to play down the matter should it arise in chemical weapon control talks.
7. (C) If AG participants raise the issue of Vils Mirazayonov’s book “State Secrets: An Insider’s View of the Russian Chemical Weapons Program,” the Del should:
— Report any instances in which the book is raised.
— Not/not start or provoke conversations about the book or engage substantively if it comes up in conversation.
— Express a lack of familiarity with the issue.
— Quietly discourage substantive discussions by suggesting that the issue is ‘best left to experts in capitals.’
The so called ‘Novichok’ group of nerve agents were developed in the 1970s and 80s by Pyotr Kirpichev and Vladimir Uglev under a Soviet program codenamed ‘Foilant’.
Later on the development group handed the project off to Professor Leonid Rink for further developments of the substances into binary agents which would make them usable as military weapons. But the Soviet Union broke down and stopped paying its scientists. Rink secretly produced a small dosage of one of the Novichok agents and sold it to a Latvian mafia contact. In 1995 the poison was used to kill a Russian mobster kingpin/banker and his secretary in Moscow. Rink produced several more doses and sold them. Their whereabouts are unknown but such substances are supposedly unstable and they will likely have lost their effect.
Another scientist at those laboratories, the chemical analyst Vil Mirzayanov was tasked with detecting environmental and security leaks from the laboratories. He knew of the ‘Foliant’ program and the developed ‘Novichok’ agents. In the early 1990s he blew the whistle about them, was harassed by the state and in 1996 was allowed to go to the United States. There he spilled his beans (pdf) and told the U.S. whatever he knew.
In 1997 the Russian Federation and other states of the former Soviet Union joined the Chemical Weapons Convention and destroyed their chemical weapon stocks and production facilities. One production and test facility for the ‘Novichok’ agents was in Nukus, Uzbekistan. In 1999 the U.S. helped to dismantle that facility. It surely acquired additional knowledge about everything that was produced there.
In 2008 Mirzayanov published a book about his story and the chemical agents developed under the ‘Foilant’ program. The book included the chemical formulas of the agents.
Today Mirzayanov lives in a million dollar home in Princeton, New Jersey.
The book created new interest in the international community of chemical weapon scientists. People involved with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were highly interested in this. Was there really a new ‘4th generation’ of chemical weapons that could be easily made from freely available industrial precursors? Naturally the U.S. diplomats involved in the arms control efforts and in the OPCW were asked about this.
U.S. State Department documents published by Wikileaks provide that the U.S. and the UK tried to suppress any discussion of the book. (A big thank you to Stephen McIntyre of Climate Audit who found these cables.)
From these U.S. State Department cables we learn of several meetings in March and April 2009, shortly after Mirzayanov’s ‘Novichok’ book came out, where the issue was discussed. U.S. diplomats at The Hague asked the CIA, the National Security Council and the State Department how to react to questions about Mirzayanov’s book.
The above is not the only involvement of “CLINTON” in the ‘Novichok’ and Skripal affair. The Hillary Clinton presidential campaign paid the British company Orbis to create the ‘dirty dossier’ about Trump and his alleged connections to Russia.
In 2016 a group of Iranian scientists synthesized five ‘Novichok’ substances. It devised ways to detect them. The results were published and added to the OPCW database.
The British government insinuates that Russia is the only country that could make ‘Novichok’ agents and must therefore have attacked the Skripals. This is obviously nonsense. The U.S. and the UK were deeply involved in the ‘Novichok’ issue. They certainly tried and succeeded to re-create these substances.
After the formulas of the nerve agents were published by Mirzayanov the U.S. and the UK suppressed discussion of the issue. The OPCW professed to know nothing about them. Only after Iranian scientists independently re-created the agents and published about them were they added to the OPCW database.