Wed Mar 14th, 2018 at 09:17:55 PM EST
This one British expert is not with us to deter another devious UK cabinet to put blame elsewhere with no evidence ... Dr. David Kelly, chemical warfare expert on Soviet CBW program from Porton Down.
Russia's Dirty Chemical Secret | American Legion Magazine - Dec. 1996 |
Buried in last year's explosive report of Michigan Senator Donald W. Riegle, Jr. concerning chemical and biological warfare agents was the assertion that Iraq may have acquired chemical agents from the former Soviet Union.
Reigle--who has since retired from the US Senate--and his staff said the agents were developed by the Soviet Union under the name, "NOVICHOK," meaning newcomer.
The Reigle report is just the latest piece of evidence pointing to the Development of a new class of poisons that may have been transferred to Iraq for use against American forces in the Gulf War.
This could explain why the DOD has engaged in what looks like a frantic effort since the war to dismantle the Russian chemical and biological warfare (CBW) program and develop effective defenses against the agents.
More below the fold ...
Vladimir Petrenko is a victim of the Russian CBW program. As a young lieutenant in 1982, he volunteered to test a new chemical warfare suit and was exposed to a poison that the Soviets had been secretly developing since the late 1970s.
Michael Waller, a senior fellow with the American Foreign Policy Council, visited with Petrenko and says his health is deteriorating. At age 34, Petrenko looks 20 years older. He is haggard and gaunt, has a grey beard and is developing serious illnesses that require almost constant treatment.
Novichok has similar effects. It can be toxic like a chemical agent or cause diseases like a biological agent. It can be lethal or debilitating.
Equally frightening, Waller says he was told by Russian scientists who have worked on the Novichok program that the poison affects human genes, causing birth defects and infant illnesses among offsprings.
These weren't the only surprises that greeted Waller as he traveled Russia in 1993 gathering information about Russian military activities that still continue under President Boris Yeltsin. He was also caught off guard when a Russian physician who treated people like Petrenko said their symptoms resembled those of the Americans he had been reading about in the papers--the sick veterans of the Persian Gulf War.
In short, the Russians may have pulled off one of the most spectacular and deadly deceptions in the history of warfare. Waller believes that NOVICHOK may be what Russian extremist Vladimir Zhirinovsky had in mind when he warned that his country has a "secret weapon" capable of destroying the West. Zhirinovsky's party dominates the Russian parliament, and Zhirinovsky has ties to the old Soviet KGB.
Indications that Zhirinovsky's threat was a boast, not a bluff, came when Vil Mirzayanov, a Russian scientist who publicly disclosed the existence of Novichok, was charged with revealing the "state secret." On two occasions, in 1992 and again in 1993, he was arrested by Russian authorities for talking about Novichok.
Mirzayanov's arrests caught the worldwide attention of scientists, including Nobel Laureate Joshua Ledberg of the Rockefeller University in New York, who headed a special Pentagon panel on Gulf War illnesses. He said if the Russians proceeded to prosecute Mirzayanov, "we must conclude that Mirzayanov was telling the truth and a whole new class of deadly binary chemical weapons was created."
However, Mirzayanov was not prosecuted, apparently because of the international attention. But that did nothing to diminish concern that he was telling the truth, the implications OF which are ominous for US national security.
In past articles, Novichok was dispersed in experiments from a lab in Uzbekistan during the Soviet era, allegedly used in First Gulf War by Saddam Hussain en Cuban leader Fidel Castro was accused of stockpiling Novichok. The Soviet developer Vil Mirzayanov has lived in the United States since the mid 90s. I can blindly state the nerve agent has been duplicated world wide in the so-called research labs of friendly nations. From Fort Detrick, Porton Down, Dutch TNO Lab, and so on ... for "defensive" purpose in limited quantity. Spreading a nerve agent across so many locations in Salisbury doesn't sound to me as a professional hit. It would be difficult to trace the source after all ... WhoDunIt?
Description of Novichok agents
The first description of these agents was provided by Mirzayanov.  Dispersed in an ultra-fine powder instead of a gas or a vapor, they have unique qualities. A binary agent was then created that would mimic the same properties but would either be manufactured using materials legal under the CWT  or be undetectable by treaty regime inspections. The most potent compounds from this family, novichok-5 and novichok-7, are supposedly around five to eight times more potent than VX.
One of the key manufacturing sites was a chemical research institute in what is now Uzbekistan, and small, experimental batches of the weapons may have been tested on the nearby Ustyurt plateau. 
Two broad families of organophosphorus agents have been claimed to be Novichok agents. First are a group of organophosphorus compounds with an attached dihaloformaldoxime group, with the general formula shown below, where R = alkyl, alkoxy, alkylamino or fluorine and X = halogen (F, Cl, Br) or pseudohalogen such as C≡N. These compounds are extensively documented in Soviet literature of the time, but it is unclear whether they are all members of the potent "Novichok" compounds.
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Central-Asia: US dismantles chemical weapons | BBC News - Aug. 9, 1999 |
A group of American defence experts have arrived in Uzbekistan to start helping the Uzbeks dismantle and decontaminate one of the former Soviet Union's largest chemical weapons testing facilities.
US officials say the chemical research institute in western Uzbekistan was a major research site for a new generation of secret, highly lethal chemical weapons, known as Novichok.
Congress has allocated up to $6m for the project, after the US signed an agreement on assistance to help dismantle the institute earlier in the year.
According to a senior defector from the Soviet chemical weapons programme, the Soviets used the plant to produce small batches of a lethal new generation of nerve agents called Novichok, or New Boy in Russian. They were designed to escape detection by international inspectors.
Some of these were then tested on the nearby Ustyurt plateau, a forbidding desert west of the Aral Sea, in contravention of treaties Moscow had signed.
Now independent Uzbekistan is only just beginning to learn the legacy it has been left.
The Uzbeks have since worked closely with the Americans, giving them access to sites that in other parts of the Soviet Union are still off limits.
US military scientists and intelligence experts have already visited the nearby island of Vozrozhdeniye in the Aral Sea, which was the Soviet Union's main open air biological testing site and where hundreds of tons of the deadly anthrax bacteria are believed to have been buried.
A mighty wind: Nerve gas, six thousand dead sheep, and Soviet trickery (2014)
VR was developed in the 1950s roughly parallel to the U.S. development of VX.
Given that it is an isomer of VX - that is, it has the same chemical formula but a different molecular structure - VR may have been reverse-engineered from VX. Vil Mirzayanov, a physical chemist and senior researcher in the Soviet nerve gas program who became a whistleblower shortly after the Cold War - exposing the Novichok program - told David Wise that the Soviet version of VX, called Agent 33, and binary chemical weapons were "developed in response to American programs and Soviet intelligence." He said that, in the early 1960s, the Soviets obtained VX from the U.S. and had synthesized it in Volgograd by 1963. "The people who did it got the Lenin Prize," he said. According to Wise, Soviet intelligence learned the formula for VX itself in 1972, and began full-scale production at Novocheboksarsk that year. 
The idea that a Dugway CBW test might go wrong and hurt civilians had certainly occurred to CBW critics. Robin Clarke, in his exposé We All Fall Down: The Prospect of Biological and Chemical Warfare, noted:
"The idea is that to test a biological weapon satisfactorily will involve detonating the weapon, releasing the biological material over a wide area on a proving-ground - such as the American one in Dugway, Utah - and recording the results on experimental animals set up in the area." 
The scientist who leaked Russia's Novichok 'conspiracy' | France24 |
Dissident Soviet scientist Vil Mirzayanov gained notoriety in the 1990s when he blew the cover on Moscow's secret experimentation with Novichok, a binary nerve agent. He had worked for almost three decades in the Soviet Union at the State Scientific Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology.
Mirzayanov became involved in Russia's nascent democratic movement and wanted to make his concerns about the chemical weapons programme public.
As a result of his dissident activities, he was fired from the institute. He then decided to write the whistle-blowing article in a Moscow newspaper along with another chemist, Lev Fyodorov. They warned of poor safety standards at the Moscow facility and vast quantities of harmful chemicals stored elsewhere in Russia.
The article led the authorities to prosecute Mirzayanov for divulging state secrets. He was arrested in October 1992 and held for several days in Moscow's notorious Lefortovo prison, used by the security services.
His case was eventually closed in 1994 after considerable international pressure on the Russian authorities. Mirzayanov has lived in the United States since 1996.
Russia declared in 2017 that it had destroyed all of its chemical weapon stockpile.
Moscow has rejected accusations of involvement in poisoning Skripal.
The CBW Convention Bulletin - July 2009
In the USA, Outskirts Press of Denver, Colorado, publishes State Secrets: An Insider's Chronicle of the Russian Chemical Weapons Program, which is a memoir by Vil Mirzayanov [see 7 Nov 02] who had emigrated to the USA from Russia in 1995. As a physical chemist he had joined the principal Soviet chemical-weapons research institution, GosNIIOKhT, in 1965 but was dismissed in 1992 for publishing a whistleblowing article. After press interviews and another such article a year later that now revealed the existence of novel Soviet nerve agents referred to as 'Novichoks' under development in a programme codenamed Foliant [see 16 Sep 92 and 18 Oct 92], he was charged with unauthorized disclosure of state secrets [see 22 Oct 92]. During the next two and a half years he was either under house arrest or in prison until the charges were finally dropped during a closed trial, an outcome he attributes to "the constant intense pressure of the media, scientists all over the world, statesmen and human right[s] activists". How all this happened he describes in his book, and, in the process, he discloses for the first time actual chemical structures of the novel agents. These include the phosphonylated or phosphorylated acetamidines hitherto known in public only as 'A-230' and 'A-232' (or, in binary form, as 'Novichok-5'), as well as other novelties. The book has 105 pages of annexes reproducing numerous documents, among them translations of evidence used by his prosecutors made available to the defence (and thence to supporters in the outside world), despite high security-classification.
Both in this book and subsequently, Dr Mirzayanov has continued to portray Novichoks as a deliberate attempt by the Russian "military chemical complex" to circumvent the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. As before, he cites in evidence the absence of A-232 precursors from the CWC schedules, continuing [see 25 May 94] to disregard the comprehensive scope of the CWC's prohibitions due to use of the general purpose criterion, not the control schedules, to define the banned weapons.
What we know about Russia's Novichok nerve agents linked to attack on ex-spy | Chemistry World |
Scientists at Porton Down would have been able to identify the agent, he adds, because the laboratory has been assembling information on potential threats for decades. 'What they will have done is made these chemicals, suspecting they were part of the Soviet or Russian arsenal,' Hay says. Then chemists at Porton Down would have 'assessed their structure and put them into a library of reference material', he adds.
Chemical structure of VX nerve agent
The generic Novichok chemical structure has some similarity to the structure of other nerve agents such as VX, seen here.
Information on Novichoks indicates that the agent used in the Salisbury attack could have been administered as a powder, spray or gas, although no information has been provided so far.
Public Health England has said that there is little risk to the public at large. Nerve agents degrade on contact with water, and the area of Salisbury where the attack took place has been hosed down. People who visited the same restaurant and pub as the Skripals on the day of the attack have been advised to wash their clothing to eliminate any risk of long term exposure.
○ Porton Down is approximately 8 miles from Salisbury
Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan states Porton Down could not have verified the Novichok fingerprint within days. May's "evidence" likened to the WMDs held by Saddam Hussein.
○ The Novichok Story Is Indeed Another Iraqi WMD Scam
I personally do not agree with Craig Murray. I believe the Novichok precursors can be replicated and indeed must have been researched across many nations. It would have been irresponsible if this new 4th generation nerve agent from the Soviet era would not have been studied.
I will look for signs this was a false flag attack which I have lived through a number of times before the onset of another major military conflict. As I have predicted, the Western world was edging towards a conflict with Russia and Israel's nemesis Iran. The Syrian failure by the West has brought both conflicts together. The Tillerson move is part of a more aggressive NSC in Trump's White House. Getting the IC and the Pentagon further infiltrated into decision making of the Oval Office. I'm changing my optimistic outlook to very negative. Especially because so many are fed US and UK war propaganda for nearly two decades now. North Korea is a distraction, no war on the Korean peninsula.
[Update-1] Dutch representative chairs the United Nations Security Council Ö new FM Stef Blok made a statement this evening itís too early to blame Russia as the evidence is lacking. The Netherlands is one of the more trusted allies of Theresa May and the UK Conservatives. I was indeed surprised. :-)