First Recorded Successful Novichok Synthesis was in 2016 – By Iran, in Cooperation with the OPCW 285

The line that novichoks can only be produced by Russia is now proven to be a complete lie. As I previously proved by referencing their publications, in 2013 the OPCW scientific advisory committee note the evidence was sparse that novichoks had ever been successfully produced, and that was still the line being published by Porton Down in 2016. You can find the hard evidence of all that here.

I have now been sent the vital information that in late 2016, Iranian scientists set out to study whether novichoks really could be produced from commercially available ingredients. Iran succeeded in synthesising a number of novichoks. Iran did this in full cooperation with the OPCW and immediately reported the results to the OPCW so they could be added to the chemical weapons database.

This makes complete nonsense of the Theresa May’s “of a type developed by Russia” line, used to parliament and the UN Security Council. This explains why Porton Down have refused to cave in to governmental pressure to say the nerve agent was Russian. If Iran can make a novichok, so can a significant number of states.

While Iran acted absolutely responsibly in cooperating with the OPCW, there are a handful of rogue states operating outwith the rule of international law, like Israel and North Korea, which refuse to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention, join the OPCW or destroy their chemical weapons stocks. Russia has cooperated in the OPCW destruction of all its chemical weapons stocks, completed last year, which included regular OPCW inspection of all the sites alleged to have been in the original “novichok” programme. Why nobody is even looking at the rogue states outwith the OPCW is a genuine puzzle.

Extraordinarily, only yesterday the Guardian was still carrying an article which claimed “only the Russian state” could make a novichok. Despite the lying propaganda regurgitated by virtually every corporate and state “journalist”, in truth is it is now proven beyond dispute that “of a type developed by Russia” has zero evidential value and is a politician’s weasel phrase designed deliberately to mislead the public. The public should ask why.

ty th Che

285 thoughts on “First Recorded Successful Novichok Synthesis was in 2016 – By Iran, in Cooperation with the OPCW

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  • duplicitousdemocracy

    US interference in the Hamas – Fatah election in Gaza several years ago renders their complaints about Russian interference as null and void. And that isn’t even considering all the other times they used brute force to bring to power the dictators of their choice. Isn’t the US interfering in Syrian affairs rather more ‘full on’ than a couple of dozen tweet posting bots?
    The Skripal conspiracy is up there with the best of them. Russia could have had him ‘disappeared’ while he was in jail, not to mention the intervening 8 years that he’s been going to fancy restaurants, probably with UK taxpayers paying the bill. There is absolutely no logic in attempting to murder a man that was no threat to them whatsoever, especially in the current climate of Russia paranoia.
    A more likely scenario is that one of the colleagues he snitched on decided to take revenge. Moreover, why is it such a shock that spies might end up killing each other? I thought that was the nature of the ‘game’?

    • Ben

      You forget the lure of payback. I’m surprised you don’t mention Arafat’s death and Polonium but you’re playing like dead bait.

      • Radio Jammor

        No he didn’t.
        “Russia could have had him ‘disappeared’ while he was in jail, not to mention the intervening 8 years”

        Explain why Putin didn’t have him killed between his arrest in 2004 and his being pardoned and swapped in 2010? Putin was either President or Prime Minister in those years, in a ‘Tendemocracy’ with Medvedev. Skripal could have been ‘offed’ in Russia and the news of his death announced anyway they wanted, with a nudge-nudge, wink-wink, смерть шпионам implied.

        Or are you suggesting Putin kept him alive just in case he could swap him and have him killed abroad at some later time of his choosing? Because if he did, aside from showing extraordinary patience and foresight, don’t you think he would have chosen a better time than in the run-up to a world cup, his own election, and when there is a load of Russophobia going on?

        And wouldn’t Skripal be in hiding, under an assumed name, as opposed to under his own name, in a house owned under his own name?

        I don’t rule Russia out; I point out the very strange timing and the fact that the man has lived this long as evidence to the contrary, and that there are other plausible explanations, such someone wanting to undermine Russia in Syria, or even undermine Russia’s influence in Europe.

        The fact that France and Macron came around to join in the condemnation (using the woolly language provided by the UK about where the Novichok came from), after initial reluctance, is interesting, and suggests France was leaned-on, in some way.

        It could have been by pointing out the UK’s solidarity with France over recent terrorist attacks and saying, “How about some reciprocation?”, or by reminding him that his rival Le-Pen was funded by Putin, so his implicating Putin could well lead to that source of funding drying up in his own backyard.

        • freddy

          If I may interject, Jammor – if the vengeful Mr. Evil (Putin) wanted to completely turn Skripal’s life into a real nightmare and to make him suffer every single day till the rest of his life, then rather than simply poison him Mr. Evil could stage some kind of accident for his daughter (after death of his wife and his son the only living soul he allegedly loved) who lived in Moscow, mind you, and thus was under his total control (Sic!)

          • Radio Jammor

            Freddy, why then, as I point out, wasn’t Skripal in hiding and living under a false name? I have to conclude that Skripal didn’t believe his life was in danger at any point, or he would have asked for protection.

            His son and wife’s deaths, btw, are not regarded as suspicious. Again, if they were, why wasn’t he in hiding? Surely if he was suspicious about his wife’s and/or son’s death, he would have been worried about his daughter.

            For a man who was a former Colonel and intelligence officer – and a double agent – he seems to have been remarkably blasé or naive to the threat you refer to.

            This is one of the major issues I have in believing that Putin ordered it, and ordered it now.

    • Mark Richardson

      apparently it was done in a way that was entirely unprofessional and incredibly unsafe. Either Russia playing deep psychological games, which is entirely possible, or the country or individual that is responsible does not have the resources or talent of the Russian secret service.

      I don’t see anything wrong with making an educated guess that Russia is responsible, but from a diplomatic point of view it’s just so sloppy and so clumsy, and it achieves nothing other than to embarrass the UK on the world stage.

      • giyane

        ” I don’t see anything wrong with making an educated guess that Russia is responsible,”

        It always amazes me that foreign students come to the UK, the second home of the 2007 financial crash, to study Economics. But if you buy into the Thatcherite narrative that UK economics make sense, why not buy into the narrative that the UK’s lies are not lies and the UK never bumps people off? Education is supposed to broaden the mind, not broaden the equivalence between lies and truth.

  • mog

    This case of unclear wording needs clearing up in a matter when little or no media attention seems to be on the victims, the hospital etc. :
    The Times published a letter from Stephen Davies (Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust) on the 16th March.
    ‘Sir, further to your report (‘Poision Exposure Leaves Nearly 40 needing Treatment’), may I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning. Several people have attended the emergency department concerned that they may have been exposed. None has had symptoms of poisoning and none has needed treatment. Any blood tests performed have shown no abnormality. No member of the public has been contaminated by the agent involved.’
    That first sentence….carefully worded or carelessly worded?

    • N_

      I don’t have much time for medics at all, but they tend to be good at wording things, and senior ones are highly practised and skilled at it, so I would say it’s very carefully worded. He probably envisages the possibility of having to give evidence to an enquiry some years in the future, probably under a “Lord”, if Salisbury does not get incinerated in WW3. He could have written “there have only ever been three patients with nerve gas poisoning, and there have been no others with significant poisoning” if he’d wanted to.

      Has a spokesman for the Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust (i.e. the ‘O$pital), or a medic, ever said that anyone who was taken to Salisbury Hospital is suffering from symptoms of nerve gas poisoning? Or is this just coming from government ministers and police?

      • CanSpeccy

        Publishers usually edit stuff, including letters to the Editor of newspapers, to suit their own needs. Doesn’t that letter from Stephen Davies (Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust) look like its been reworded to create ambiguity, and thus smother a bombshell revelation, that there was no nerve gas poisoning in Salisbury. Period.

      • SA

        “I don’t have much time for medics at all, “

        I hope you enjoy good health and never need to see a doctor because you have no time for them. But tell me how you can avoid to see them if you ever get ill?

        You are indulging in the same type of lumping groups if people together as a uniform conspiracy, the same method used by those you criticise for demonisation Russia which you rightly write quite clearly about. Consistency please.

        • Muscleguy

          I get ill but I hardly ever see a doctor over it. Because i recognise self limiting viral infections and that there is nothing doctors can do about those.

          I’m also a very healthy 52yo lifelong distance runner. I’m not overweight, I don’t have high blood pressure (more like low) or high blood lipids or signs of peripheral insulin resistance (I keep my muscles hungry). So the metabolic syndrome which affects so many in middle age so that mass medication with statins is now routine is not my lot.

          My wife, who doesn’t exercise is on statins and they make her joints hurt ‘like toothache’. Not a ‘side effect’ likely to make one want to exercise, is it? I don’t need them, am determined not to need them and would refuse them if offered.

          So you see avoiding doctors is quite easy. I don’t hold them in contempt, I’m just aware of diagnostic search pathways and how personal bias can cause shortcuts in them.

          • SA

            By all means keep healthy and fit and I agree not everyone needs statins but for those whose lifestyle is unhealthy and have a high cholesterol, statins can prolong life.
            I don’t know why your wife has joint pains but that is not a recognised side effect of statins. Maybe more exercise is needed.
            The point is that unnecessary medication should not really equate with avoiding medicine altogether.

    • Radio Jammor

      I’m going with cock-up, there. And the cock-up could be the newspaper’s, rather than the author’s – because surely even The Times would have some scrap of journalistic integrity left to follow-up on that claim, as worded.

      • giyane

        Radio Jammor

        ” surely even The Times would have some scrap of journalistic integrity left ”
        Integrity , like beauty , is in the eye of the beholder. If you don’t get itchy under the scalp when being lied to by powerful institutions, and you are comfortable with the uniformity of public institutional lies across the spectrum of published comment, yes there is considerable integrity between the social class of professional liars. Integrity, integrity. I like that . I must put that on my next Electrical Certificate.
        Your electrical installation is approximately 50 years old and still retains considerable integrity across the spectrum of its dangerous faults.

    • Rosalind

      This is important to note, because nerve agent poisoning is extremely easy to prove or disprove, both before and after death. I say this as someone who has been a professional toxicologist for over 20 years.

  • Ben

    The over-arching question…

    Do Leftists have need of tyranny for enforcement of their principled dynamics?

    • Ben

      Because there’s no other explanation for the umbrage shown the World’s most avaricious and viscious oligarch of them all.

      • Herbie

        What are you on about.

        We’re trying to evaluate a case made by the govt.

        Your continual smearing doesn’t assist that process, indeed it looks very remarkably like the smearjobs going on in media.

        The case has merit or it does not.

        This continual sneering and smearing seems to indicate that you don’t believe in a fair trial.

        • Kat

          Ben you seem to have some very personal hatred issues with Russia, very much like Bill Browder

    • SA

      You seem to have ignored to tell us how the very right wing neoliberal introduced the largest larceny in history and theft in history by encouraging opening of Russia to the rule of oligarchs and gangsters under Yeltsin between 1992 and 1999. This was done not only by support but actually directions of the institutions of the west. I hope you have noted that and that you have personally complained about this at the time and continue to do so.
      It always interests me how it has now become common to start the story at the point of the choice of those choosing to guide the narrative ignoring what has led up to the situation.
      Judging by your previous extensive mostly snipetty one liners, I do not expect a rigorous refutation but I might by disappointed.

      • Ben

        I’m not condoning the cock- slaps on Gorby and Yeltsin but it does seem you have tagged one of Putins payback motives..

  • Dec

    Craig, you must read the paper the article cites. Relevant quotes are:

    “All the chemicals required for the microsynthesis of O-alkylN-[bis(dimethylamino)methylidene]-P-methylphosphonami-dates were purchased from Sigma-Aldrich (St. Louis, MO,USA), Fluka (Neu-Ulm, Germany), and Merck (Darmstadt,Germany), and were used as received. Methylphosphonicdifluoride (Scheme 1, cpd 1) was synthesized by use of amethod described elsewhere.[18]Isopropanol-d6was preparedby reduction of acetone-d6by sodium borohydride.”

    Interpretation: trivial to obtain ingredients. Next we have the preparation itself. After some simple moves you can make with standard benchtop equipment we have the following line about safety:

    “It should be noted that, due to the extreme toxicityof these materials, the separation and purification ofCWC-related chemical are very difficult and thereforeshould be carried out only by a trained professional in anefficient fume cupboard equipped with an active charcoalfiltration system.”

    So all you need is a slightly better than standard fume cupboard!

    Not just another country, any fucking polytechnic can make this stuff in small quantities.

    • giyane

      Good to know that cremation will destroy all the evidence.

  • Veronique Denyer

    Thank you for your considered blogs on this Craig. You have helped me to hold any opinion in abeyance. No one knows and we are unlikely to ever know the truth. All I can see is a dangerous escalation on the diplomatic front. I doubt it will stop there.

    • giyane

      Veronique Denyer

      Good for you for reflecting on all of this. Holding one’s opinions in abeyance seems like good policy for dealing with those who are economical with the truth,

  • Peter

    Anyone who is educated in chemistry knows that all that fuss is ordinary lie invented because of other political interests. However, all facts prove that all that irresponsible political turmoil and unprincipled adventure is horrible mistake that ruins security of international relations.

  • J. Brook

    From the scientist who brought Novichoks to the attention of the world himself:


    While I was writing my book “State Secrets: An Insider’s Chronicle of the Russian Chemical Weapons Program”, some people from Washington persistently advised me not to include the formulas of the chemical agents of the Novichok series in my book. These formulas were unknown to all countries of the world except for Russia, and they are not on the Control List of the Chemical Weapons Convention. …

    I reminded these people that the formulas of VX gas, sarin and soman have already been published. In some books it is even possible to find the basics of the production technologies of these agents. No one tried to give me a logical counter-argument or even make a good point. I suspect that the reason for this is that these people really have no real knowledge about their topic of conversation – chemical weapons. Oterwise, they wouldn’t have adviced the UN Commission on Irak to go Saddam Husein’s palaces before Bush’s invasion, to look for his secret chemical agent factories. …

    Another reason why it is impossible for terrorists to use chemical agents is that they cannot create weapons from them. Chemical weapons are chemical agents carried in sophisticated bombs or rockets that have reliable delivery systems or launchers. In the case of binary weapons, two chemicals must be mixed together perfectly during flight. The mixing and temperature need to be carefully controlled. Only special military personnel can operate them with minimal risk of poisoning or death. Also, it is impossible to send chemical agents out in envelopes, as someone did with anthrax spores in the US. …

    All of the advice people gave me not to publish formulas of the Novichok chemical agents, based on the argument that terrorists would use them, does not ring true. These agents should be acknowledged and immediately put under the control of the OPCW, the organization that administers the Chemical Weapons Convention. We need to stop mystifying chemical weapons and the non-existent biological weapons. It is time to stop scaring the American people with imaginary problems, in order to blindly extract as much money as possible from them for protection. If you look at the funding these scare tactics have generated for various projects, I am sure that some of them were necessary, but you can also be sure that some unnecessary pet projects of lobbyists were also included.

    All these funds should be redirected for practical measures that will truly improve the security of our country and protect us from real danger.

  • AS

    In a letter to the Times, March 16th 2018, Dr. Stephen Davies, consultant in emergency medicine at the Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, writes: “Sir. Further to your report (“Poison exposure leaves almost 40 needing treatment”, Mar 14), may I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning.”

    Does that say what I think it says? The consultant at Salisbury has publicly stated that nobody has been treated for nerve agent poisoning at Salisbury?

    • Node

      Does that say what I think it says? The consultant at Salisbury has publicly stated that nobody has been treated for nerve agent poisoning at Salisbury?


      • AS

        That’s my reading too. Doesn’t anyone in the media want to ask him for clarification? Or would that be an irrelevance?

      • N_

        It’s interesting too that no member of the royal family – and Salisbury isn’t far from either Windsor or Highgrove – have visited. That’s while this is described by the government as an attack by a foreign power in an English town, using a military weapon, that has left a British policeman, a naturalised British citizen who is a civilian, and a visitor to this country fighting for their lives in hospital. Part of that could be because they royals are a bit iffy about anything that risks questions being raised about family members’ links with Russian mafia bosses. Part may also be “we’ll let the government get on with what they’re doing, and if it blows up in their face it’s nothing to do with us”.

        • giyane


          Question is. Could one get a royal corgi to ingest the correct ingredients and deliver the poison gas properly mixed at the right temperature to the right royal guest?

    • JimKirk

      As you indicate the interesting part is that the term poison is retained when referring to the three in Hospital whilst the phrase ‘nerve agent’ is dropped.Do you have a link to that letter so that the source can be verified?

  • Dave G

    The involvement of Iran makes the sacking of Tillerson (who was far less anti-Iran than Trump) look like fortuitous timing, doesn’t it? Especially as the guy who has been nominated to replace Tillerson is as anti-Iran as Trump. So instead of just Russia, Russia and Iran might well be the targets now.
    They don’t just throw these things together, do they?

  • Herbie

    Excellent work over the past week collating this material.

    You’re being quoted everywhere.

    Should have your own show really.

    Not hard to set up these days.

  • dunwich

    Craig: Extraordinarily, only yesterday the Guardian was still carrying an article which claimed “only the Russian state” could make a novichok.

    Or as we could say:

    Extraordinarily, only two days ago Craig was writing an article which proposed that novichoks didn’t even exist.

    Actually the Guardian doesn’t claim what Craig claims it does (no surprise there perhaps). It quotes Vil Mirzayanov as arguing that, which is not the same thing.

    We’re not going to get much truth here.

    • Dave G

      No, Craig said that OPCW didn’t think Novichuk existed in 2013, but then Iran synthesized some, with the OPCW’s blessing, and in 2016/7 the OPCW changed their position.

      • dunwich

        That may be what he is saying now, but only hours previously he was denouncing the mainstream media as follows:

        It goes without saying that not a single mainstream media “journalist” has reported that fact either that until recently Porton Down believed that “novichoks” had probably never actually been synthesised successfully and that the OPCW has never banned them on the grounds that there was no evidence of their physical existence.

        He’s loudly criticising the media for not reporting a “fact”, which a few hours later he no longer regards as a fact at all. He is destroying his own reputation.

        Of course it was not a fact at all, as the quote he relied on didn’t say say Porton Down believed what he says it believed.

        Others may want judge if this is stupidity or dishonesty.

        • Dave G

          He linked to a scientific paper by one of the top men at Porton Down which said that they were doubtful that Novichuk existed. He’s not making this stuff up, much as you’d like everyone to think he is.

          • Kat

            Craig is conducting his research and presenting facts that he managed to discover so far. New facts require an adjustment of one’s position, this is part of a scientific approach. I think that people on this site are concerned about the mainstream tendency to jump to conclusions without evidence, no one participating in this discussion i believe is here just to state and insist on their unshaken beliefs, with few sad exceptions. We have been exploring the subject and i personally am ready to change my current opinion about false accusations of Russia as soon as i am presented with supporting evidence, not hysterical speculations. The value of this blog and Craig’s input is in encouraging thinking people to remain open-minded and not to fall prey of propaganda. Thank you Craig and others!

          • dunwich

            Read the article, or just the words Craig quoted. They don’t quite say that they are doubtful Novichok existed. They report publicly available sources, which is not the same thing. The assertion that “Porton Down believed that “novichoks” had probably never actually been synthesised successfully” is entirely unsupported. Yet others are criticised, effectively for dishonesty, for not reporting it as a fact, and then hours later without comment or apology Craig writes another article maintaining they do exist.

            This is not a nice way to argue, and it goes to character. It also goes Craig’s position which is to argue that it’s anyone but the Russians. He’ll adopt any argument to that end. And he doesn’t car how contradictory they are.

            Time to revisit Craig’s little joke from November:

            “One of the following is true:

            a) No blogging recently because after the court case I had to dash back to work in Ghana and promptly went down with food poisoning
            b) No blogging recently because I am awaiting my next pay cheque from the Kremlin.”

            Since then he has published half his posts have been defences of Putin’s Russia.

          • Dave G

            From the paper by Dr Black, one of the top people at Porton Down:

            “In recent years, there has been much speculation that a fourth generation of nerve agents, ‘Novichoks’ (newcomer), was developed in Russia, beginning in the 1970s as part of the ‘Foliant’ programme, with the aim of finding agents that would compromise defensive countermeasures. Information on these compounds has been sparse in the public domain, mostly originating from a dissident Russian military chemist, Vil Mirzayanov. No independent confirmation of the structures or the properties of such compounds has been published. (Black, 2016)”

            Black calls the existence of Novichok “speculation”. I don’t know how much more doubt you need.

        • AS

          The inconsistencies are out there and not produced by Craig Murray. For example an article published in 2016 by a leading scientist at Porton Down does cast doubt on the existence of novichoks, the OPCW likewise. Have you read those sources cited in previous articles here? If so you’ll know that is true. Further research, by Craig Murray or others, has revealed other, apparently contradictory information. You’re saying that the discovery of contradictory information makes the discover stupid or dishonest! Are you seriously going to sustain that as an argument?

          The general point is that the media is not asking any questions about anything to do with this case, so of course they are not producing any contradictions – how could they if they are asking and reporting nothing, merely repeating what they are being told by the government, which so far has been almost entirely content and evidence free?

          • Radio Jammor

            I agree, but I would like to know why Craig is so adamant that Novichok’s didn’t exist before, based essentially on the OPCW not having been supplied with evidence that such existed.

            I have on more than one occasion (and others have too) referred to articles in the NYT and on the BBC, from 1999, informing of the US going into Uzbekistan – where Craig was Ambassador – and cleaning up a chemical weapons site of Novichok. Craig previously referred to this being finished at around the time of his appointment (2002), which ties-in with another document I have previously linked to, which was a Senate Hearing transcript/report from 2003, which refers to the completion of the cleaning up of a Chemical Weapons facility at Nukus.

            This document also refers to the whistle-blowing of Mirzayanov.

            If the US let it publicly be known that they were cleaning up a Chemical Weapons site, specifically of Novichok, in 1999, and in 2003 made references again to Novichok and reported that the site was clean, with the US having funded the operation to do so, as part of the Nunn–Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction programme, clearly they believe Novichoks existed back then and needed cleaning up in Uzbekistan.

            Whilst Craig is right to point out that the OPCW were not at the time provided with the information they needed to be able to confirm the existence of Novichoks, I find it odd that he has used this to take the stance that they probably didn’t exist, when there is clear evidence that the US and Uzbekistan believe they did, and a chemical weapons site was gone into and cleaned-up on that basis.

            Isn’t the rather simpler explanation here more plausible than Craig’s stance that they did not exist – that being that the US neglected to apprise the OPCW of what it found – or didn’t find – at Nukus?

            Put it another way; if Craig was right and that prior to the Iran tests succeeding, that no one had successfully created a Novichok, why hasn’t he cottoned on to what must therefore be a massive deception perpetrated by the US on the reason for cleaning up the site at Nukus – or failing to tell anyone that either a) there wasn’t actually any Novichok there, or b) there was Novichok there, which they cleaned-up, but wilfully neglected to tell the OPCW all about it (despite the Senate hearings and the initial press reports)?

            Those links (yet again): US dismantles chemical weapons



            “In my view, the US government and the international community have yet to reward Dr. Mirzayanov’s valor by bringing Moscow to full account for the novichok program.”

            “CTR funds have also driven the safe dismantlement and destruction of a chemical weapons production plant and testing facility located at Nukus, Uzbekistan.”

            “DOD completed a project to dismantle the former Soviet CW research facility at Nukus, Uzbekistan in FY 2002”.

          • Paul Cockshott

            The Uzbek base where the new substances were allegedly tested, should not be assumed to have only been working with these toxins or even to have mainly been working with them. What the US helped clean up is described as a chemical weapons facility. Most of the cleanup may have been cleaning other substances.

          • Radio Jammor

            At Paul Cockshott, I take it you didn’t read those articles, or if you did, you did it so badly as to miss almost everything.

            From the BBC article: “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.”

            Also: “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.

            From the NYT article: “Earlier this year, the Pentagon informed Congress that it intends to spend up to $6 million under its Cooperative Threat Reduction program to demilitarize the so-called Chemical Research Institute, in Nukus, Uzbekistan. Soviet defectors and American officials say the Nukus plant was the major research and testing site for a new class of secret, highly lethal chemical weapons called ”Novichok,” which in Russian means ”new guy.””

            Also: “After touring the plant last year, inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the Hague-based agency that oversees the 1993 treaty banning chemical weapons, concluded that the institute may have tested weapons but was not a production site.

            Mr. Mustafoev, the Deputy Foreign Minister, scoffed at the finding, arguing there is plenty of evidence of such work at the lab that the Soviets built in 1986, closed to all but the Russian scientists who worked there, and abandoned only in 1992. American officials agreed, noting that a senior defector from the Soviet chemical weapons program, Vil S. Mirzayanov, who worked for more than 25 years in the Soviet chemical weapons program, has told them and later said publicly that the plant was built to produce batches, for testing, of Novichok binary weapons designed to escape detection by international inspectors.”

            From the 2003 Senate Report:
            “In my view, the US government and the international community have yet to reward Dr. Mirzayanov’s valor by bringing Moscow to full account for the novichok program. The reasons for this sad state of affairs are complicated and perhaps better discussed another day, but when considering chemical weapons proliferation concerns, one must be mindful that a proven design exists for a turn-key chemical weapons production capacity that could be buried in the agro-chemical industry and within a relatively short period of time begin churning out
            chemical agents five to eight times as deadly as VX and ten times as lethal as soman.”

            “Also completed are the demilitarization and cleanup of chemical and biological weapons testing facilities at Nukus and on Vorozhdeniye Island in the Aral Sea region of Uzbekistan.”

            “CTR funds have also driven the safe dismantlement and destruction of a chemical weapons production plant and testing facility located at Nukus, Uzbekistan.”

            “DOD completed a project to dismantle the former Soviet CW research facility at Nukus, Uzbekistan in FY 2002”

            The Irish times also has an article at, from a journo who was in Moscow in 1993, and in the article he states, “The main production plant for Novichok was in Uzbekistan.”

            So, we have three articles referring to a chemical weapons site at Nukus, and a senate committee hearing transcription that refers to the clean-up and to Dr. Mirzayanov, but I acknowledge that there is some dispute over whether or not Nukus was a production facility or not. It seems clear however that it was at least a research and test site, whether or not production occurred there.

            And I’ve just discovered this from the Washington Post: “I learned that research on Novichok had begun in 1987, even as the Soviet Union said it would unilaterally halt all its chemical-weapons programs. It had been developed at the institute and tested in a place called Shikhani, in southeastern Russia, and in the Nukus region of Uzbekistan.” –

            What is clear is that 1) the US went to Nukus stating that they were going to clean up Novichok and had been informed that it was there – and agreed. 2) The US in praising Dr. Mirzayanov in 2003, clearly believed, or at the very least, wanted everyone else to believe, that there was a viable Novichok chemical weapons program to clean up. 3) They cleaned up the Nukus site, at which they had said Novichok was present, without any apparent subsequent reversal of this to say something like, “Oh, when we got there, and had a look round, there wasn’t any Novichok, but we cleaned-up what was there anyway”.

            So, again I say, according to this information, Novichok existed and was present at Nukus, either because of being produced or tested there. This being so, why didn’t the US supply the OPCW with samples of what it found so that it could record this? As Craig’s information says, they did not have such, ten years later.

            If the information about the Novichok being present at Nukus was false, where is the correction or retraction? What did the US clean up at Nukus if there wasn’t Novichok there?

            Was this some elaborate lie for funding? Did they get it wrong and not admit the error? Or was Novichok there in Nukus, and the US did what they say they did, but neglected, for some reason, to keep the OPCW in the loop?

    • Madeira

      “We’re not going to get much truth here.”

      Not from your comments, certainly. As of 2016, Porton Down didn’t even know that novichok could be synthesized, Craig was reporting this. He obviously was not aware at that point of the report of the Iranian scientists, which hasn’t exact been splashed around the media. Now he has been made aware of the report.

  • Etienne

    Only this morning did I notice several historical articles of interest with regards to this entire saga recently read on the subject were suddenly no longer available. And now a new one pops up! Strange times.
    I’m not disputing what is claimed in that article- it’s a good find – but where’s the actual proof that it is correct? Answer: there isn’t any..
    Perhaps someone can contact the author of the article. It doesn’t look like he’s hard to find, and before he sees this blog post and goes to ground..

  • Merkin Scot

    Craig, this series of reports represents, in my opinion, the best written work you have done in recent years.

    • Herbie

      Yes. It’s brilliant work, and what any decent journalist should be doing.

      Worth remembering that Craig has been involved in quite a few similar campaigns on this blog against fraudulent govt accounts of things, and had his work brought to wider public attention, and always vindicated.

      And i’m not just talking about the torture horror, but on many political things big and small down the years.

      Definitely needs his own show.

  • N_

    For their Newsnight programme, the kingdom’s state broadcaster, the BBC, altered the image of Jeremy Corbyn’s hat to make it look more Russian, and then they pasted it onto a background showing St Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square, Moscow. Then the programme’s acting editor Jess Brammar, contemptuously communicating through a company called “Twitter”, sneered that “Newsnight didn’t photoshop a hat”. She then explained that the graphics team are excellent and hardworking and that the graphic had only been given the “usual” treatment. She then said that “If you look you can see it’s same hat in silhouette”.

    Ms Brammar, you are a fucking dirty shitty liar. You sneer “didn’t photoshop a hat” as if pointing out what you did is insane. You try to cover your butt by referring to the graphics team, as if they somehow do not work under your authority as the programme’s editor. And then you scoff that “if you look” you can see it’s the same hat. As you well know, because it’s your dirty job as a propagandist for the elite, few look at an image closely that is flashed onto the screen for a few tens of seconds.

    Jeremy Corbyn’s hat is mid-to-dark blue and it is basically a cap. You have deliberately given high contrast to his face in order to call up memories of Stalinist “Socialist Realist” posters, and you have made his hat dark brown and put a dark shadow across his forehead which for most people who look only briefly at the image will make it look like a Russian-style fur hat.

    You knew exactly what you are doing. Those graphics people were given a task and they fulfilled it. This is political propaganda for the Tory party.

    Ms Brammar, I don’t watch TV, but if I did and if I had a licence I would sent it back to you. Five years in a labour camp for someone like you would be too kind. It is people like you who are the traitors.

    Hackers should bring down the BBC’s website in response.

    • N_

      People can see the images here. Best to look first at the one that shows the whole backdrop of St Basil’s. The hat has deliberately been made dark brown and to look as though it has a vertical brim, similar to a Cossack hat. I am going to have so much fun reading any responses by rationalising rightwing “queen and country” merchants who point out that in fact it does not cover Corbyn’s ears and therefore cannot be a Cossack hat, etc., and who invite me to believe Elvis Presley has married Princess Diana and they are living together on the Moon. It certainly does look like a Russian fur hat, and that is why the image was made like that. This is utterly obvious, utterly blatant Tory political propaganda by the state broadcaster.

    • Hieroglyph

      Well said, it was quite obviously not an accident. The beeb employs skilled web designers, and graphics designers, no question. Not one of them were likely to make this kind of ‘mistake’, and if they had, their superior would have clocked it instantly. As it goes, it would actually be quite good, if it was an internet meme, or some trolling from the Tory party’s media team, but it was the bbc, so no excuse. Unless of course they are the Tory party’s media team, in which case, I’ll give them a 7/10; not a bad piece of trolling at all.

      This is one of the many reasons I almost never watch the news. It’s just stern-eyed Pravda-whores, reading out The Party line, except with some nice fancy graphics and diversity.

  • P

    [email protected] & [email protected]
    + Node + AS reply
    (Mog reproduces entire letter)

    Make points that demand attention from us all (incl Mrs May and the media)

    letter i n times
    (I registered, it didn’t require payment.)

    (Dr) Stephen Davies
    Consultant in emergency medicine, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust

    Says in a letter to the times

    “may I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning.”

    So no one with nerve agent poisoning but 3 with a non-nerve agent poisoning.

    “No member of the public has been contaminated by the agent involved.”

    ie no member of public contaminated with non-nerve agent poison.

    That’s what it says
    No one has been poisoned by a Novichok or indeed any other nerve agent in Salisbury.

    • N_

      Wow! In full…

      The Times, 16 Mar 2018
      Sir, Further to your report (“Poison exposure leaves almost 40 needing treatment”, Mar 14), may I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning. Several people have attended the emergency department concerned that they may have been exposed. None has had symptoms of poisoning and none has needed treatment. Any blood tests performed have shown no abnormality. No member of the public has been contaminated by the agent involved.
      Stephen Davies
      Consultant in emergency medicine, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust

      Interestingly, the Times also did a piece reporting on that letter, and they turned it into this:

      In a letter to The Times Dr Davies writes that no patients experienced symptoms other than the three with “significant poisoning”. “Several people have attended the emergency department concerned that they may have been exposed,” he adds. “None has had symptoms of poisoning and none has needed treatment. Any blood tests performed have shown no abnormality. No member of the public has been contaminated by the agent involved.”

      The totally “forget” that he wrote “no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury“.

      • N_

        Has any medic actually said on the record that any patient in Salisbury has suffered symptoms of nerve agent poisoning, or is it only the police, and the lying warmongering excuse for a prime minister, her cokehead foreign secretary and her emotionally stunted brat of a defence secretary who are saying that? Because one day a treason court might ask.

        • dunwich

          warmongering excuse… cokehead… emotionally stunted brat…

          Too many adjectives? I always think that’s a tabloid trick. Smeary adjectives in place of an argument.

          • N_

            Consultant Stephen Davies, specialist in emergency treatment at Salisbury hospital, stated FOUR DAYS after the attack that no patients had experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning.

            Try that.

          • AS

            While your trick is to pick up on an irrelevant side issue rather than address the issue. This is routine for the mainstream media, of course. Object to the language used, if you must, but address the point.

      • Sharp Ears

        N_. Earlier you said you had no time for doctors. I said that was an ignorant remark. Now you are quoting Dr Davies. Make up your mind.

    • AS

      Thanks P and N_ for publishing the full letter, without access I could only confirm the part I cited.
      The wording strikes me as very deliberate but, of course, open to being missed by a rapid or superficial reading (by someone unquestioning). Of course that could and should be confirmed with the consultant in question. Presumably the Times checked the authenticity of the letter. Note the strange fact that there has been a media shut down on the state of the actual victims, but this letter was published – almost as though it slipped through.

  • Salford Lad

    There is an inordinate amount of speculation as to the source of the poison agent which disabled the Skirpals and the Police Officer.
    I posit this is a distraction and we are missing the real question. What is the motive behind the poisoning.?
    I have previously contended that this was a ‘false flag’ , to prepare the British people and the world for a ‘false flag’ operation’ in East Ghouta.Syria. to enable a US/NATO/Israeli attack.
    This is becoming more evident each day, We have had Nikki Haley at the UN on March 12th, threatening a US attack on Syria ,should a chemical attack occur. The rapid advance of Syrian forces has uncovered 2 chemical weapons labs and delayed this ‘false flag’.
    The US/NATO/Israeli regimes are facing a humiliating defeat in Syria. and are desperate to regain military credibility and move onto the next chesspiece of their plan, Iran.
    This is a last desperate throw of the dice to snatch victory from defeat. and they are becoming careless.
    The Russian/Syrian Military are aware of the tactics involved and a recent meeting between Genr.Gerasimov of Russa and Genr Dunsford of the US Military was held.
    Genr Gerasimov warned that any attack on Syria would incur retaliation on all sources of the attacks ,including land,air and ships. The Russians have 24 air cover over Damascus and have moved batteries of their S-400 anti missile weapons into place.
    No doubt Dunsford is overruled by the Washington neocons and is aware he is about to incur heavy losses should an attack occur. The gloves are off, the weapons about to be used may not be conventional armoury and expect the unexpected.

    • N_

      You may well be right.

      17 March from TASS, the Russian state news agency:

      US preparing strikes on Syria, carrier strike groups set up in Mediterranean – general

      Sergei Rudskoi added that “groupings of strike carriers that carry cruise missiles have been deployed” in the Mediterranean and Red Seas

      MOSCOW, March 17. /TASS/. Russia’s General Staff see signs that the United States is readying strikes on Syrian governmental forces as carrier strike groups have been deployed for the purpose, Chief of the Russian General Staff’s Main Operations Department Colonel-General Sergei Rudskoi said on Saturday.

      “We are aware that there are signs of preparations for possible strikes,” the general said in a televised interview with the Rossiya’24 channel.

      He added that “groupings of strike carriers that carry cruise missiles have been deployed” in the Mediterranean and Red Seas.

    • giyane

      Salford Lad
      Yes. But as in this pathetic little Bullingdon white lie, well white powder anyway, it looks to me increasingly as though the war is not between the lying psychopathic leaders looking after their countries’ individual interests, but between the lying political class and us. A quarter of a million people left their homes yesterday from Afrin which has been bombarded by NATO’s and Russia’s Turkey’s Erdogan. The united arseholes of greed against us ordinary citizens of peace.

      • Liza Rack

        Ordinary citizens around the world are merely “collateral damage” – good phrase “united arseholes of greed” and I would add to greed with “profiteering” because there is nothing the arseholes will not do for financial gain.

    • SA

      Salford lad
      Thank you for following Syria closely. My impression is also that the shift has shifted from Syria to The Kremlin.
      The fairly rapid progress of the SAA in East Ghouta has obviously terrified the conspirators. I wonder what secrets Douma, the largest town in the enclave holds. I wouldn’t be surprised that there will be secrets of west’s direct involvement in the Conflict uncovered when the enclave is fully liberated.
      I also wouldn’t be surprised if in the next few days there is a big provocation to test Russia in Syria perhaps even directly targeting Russian forces or air base in Latakia.
      The mass exodus of civilians from some parts has also been somewhat misreported in the MSM as civilians fleeing and with fear that they are moving to government controlled areas. The pro government demonstrations and the jubilations of the liberated people are misreported as forced deportation.

  • Jon

    And has anyone in the media even considered that aliens could be completely capable of producing novichoks???

  • Jim Bob

    Extraordinarily, only yesterday the Guardian was still carrying an article which claimed “only the Russian state” could make a novichok.

    That’s not what the article says though, is it? It says only the Russian state could WEAPONISE it, not MAKE it. Now that may not seem like a massive difference, but it’s exactly the kind of quibble that you would be calling a smoking gun if it was backing up your side of events.

    You’re as much of a liar as the mainstream media, but your followers will ignore this as inconvenient fact.

    • james

      you and dumbwitch really need to find another activity…

      from the article “Weaponization would also need to take place at a different facility from the one where the agent was made, he said.
      Mirzayanov said the perpetrator of the attack must have been the Russian state.
      “No one country has these capabilities like Russia, because Russia invented, tested and weaponized novichok,” he said.

      • Rhys Jaggar

        So we are discussing route of administration, which could be:

        1) Via a skin formulation (liquid, paste/cream)
        2) A nasal/inhaler formulation (delivery to bloodstream via lungs)
        3) Via the digestion system (a traditional pill or enema)
        4) Direct injection into a vein, into a muscle etc.

        We are discussing technology to mix the two components and to deliver payload to victims.

        We are, in the case of particles in powders, discussing particle size (nanoparticles may be more potent).

        Delayed reaction to exposure is more indicative of a pill needing payload release in the duodenum prior to absorption into the bloodstream. Skin admin and inhalers suggest more immediate responses.

        All this stuff is absolutely standard formulation technology to pharma companies worldwide. It just needs knowledge of the specifics to put the weapon together.

        So the next question is fairly key:

        ‘What is/are the formulation(s) of ‘military grade’ Novichok?’

        And who in the world possesses that knowledge?

        • Syzygy

          A pill formulation would explain the delayed reaction but does not easily explain either the synchronicity of the two intended victims being affected nor how the police officer became contaminated when he was in the Skrypal household.

          BTW Thank you for posting…. your comments are most illuminating.

      • dunwich

        Dumb witch, eh? What a wit! Why don’t you take you insults and shove them somewhere the sun doesn’t shine.

  • Paul Rooney

    I’m a Zionist, but I still find your blog and your books extremely interesting.
    We all have our own points of view, and it’s not helpful to be hurtful to those we disagree with.

    And I’d still like two hard copies, please, of both Orangemen and Murder in Samarkand, if that’s possible.

    I’m still reading Sikunder Burnes. Usually I read quickly, but it’s filled with facts and takes more time to digest than the post office took to get it here to China.

    Best wishes,


  • AS

    The Independent comments section to Russia stories is now being modded on a huge scale.
    Check out the number of deletions.

  • integer

    Just a heads up that it is “highly likely” that the 77th Brigade will be attempting to shape the narrative of the Skripal incident:

    British army creates team of Facebook warriors The Guardian

    The British army is creating a special force of Facebook warriors, skilled in psychological operations and use of social media to engage in unconventional warfare in the information age.

    The 77th Brigade, to be based in Hermitage, near Newbury, in Berkshire, will be about 1,500-strong and formed of units drawn from across the army. It will formally come into being in April.

    The Israel Defence Forces have pioneered state military engagement with social media, with dedicated teams operating since Operation Cast Lead, its war in Gaza in 2008-9. The IDF is active on 30 platforms – including Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Instagram – in six languages. “It enables us to engage with an audience we otherwise wouldn’t reach,” said an Israeli army spokesman.

    It has been approached by several western countries, keen to learn from its expertise.

    With all the attention this site has been getting of late, it’s probably safe to assume that they are active here.

    • N_

      For the army’s propaganda to its internal market, i.e. to the army, and to keep up with what ideas are tolerated, what’s encouraged, and what gets stomped on, there is no better site than I’d imagine the 77th Brigade are there too, but anyway it’s a fascinating case study.

  • Bob Apposite

    The crime either occurred in Britain or Russia.
    i.e. The Crime Scenes are then either in Britain and Russia.
    i.e. Any evidence as to the identity of the assailant is in Britain and Russia.

    So, why, exactly, is Craig keen on turning everyone away from the crime scene and the evidence?
    Very curious.

    • Dave Edwards

      Peter starts.
      Is THIS a warning? In the past few days I have begun to sense a dangerous and dark new intolerance in the air, which I have never experienced before. An unbidden instinct tells me to be careful what I say or write, in case it ends badly for me. How badly? That is the trouble. I am genuinely unsure.

      A worrying article from a man that obviously had a few sleepless nights as we all are at the moment.
      One would assume then that all posters and readers of Craig’s blog will be having their IP addresses logged by the security services and rounded up when if it all kicks off.
      Small price to pay to try and avert WW3.

  • Dave Edwards

    Before I am accused of being a spy and giving away military secrets. This was all over the local Greek, Cypriot and Turkish papers two weeks ago as the media went into overload stating that the US 6th fleet was being sent to protect and Exxon-Mobil drill exploration vessel from the Turkish navy which had already forced back an Italian vessel.

    Without the frenzy of local media coverage the fleet would have snuck quietly by two weeks ago.

    Of interest is the composition of the additional ships as stated in that article.
    The Iwo Jima amphibious ready group, including three amphibious ships and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit comprising 2,500 U.S. Marines, entered Sixth Fleet operations, which are based in Naples, Italy, on Feb. 21, the U.S. navy said in a statement.

  • Basil Fawlty

    I have just read the Guardian article about the interview with Vil Mirzayanov, and found this to be an interesting sentence;
    “He was arrested in 1994 and charged with divulging state secrets. Intervention by the US government, the Soros foundation and activists including his wife Gale, an American, secured his asylum in the United States”

    The fact that DR Evil (George Soros) played a part in bringing chemical weapons expertise to the US concerns me. Soros sure does practice a weird kind of philanthropy.

    • giyane

      Basil Fawlty

      ” Soros sure does practice a weird kind of philanthropy ”

      Dr Stephen Hawkins IMHO practices a rather weird kind of ‘black hole enthalpy’ when he did not even believe in God, the owner of the Universe.

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