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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  • Sharp Ears

    Israeli jets strike several Gaza targets
    18 Mar 2018 | 05:59 GMT
    Israeli Air Force (IAF) jets struck a number of targets in the Gaza Strip on Saturday night, the Jerusalem Post reported, citing Gazan media. Earlier on Saturday, IAF fighter jets attacked a Hamas target in central Gaza. “The IDF will continue to operate for the safety of Israeli civilians, by all means at its disposal,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said, adding that the airstrike was carried out in response to an explosive device that went off near the security fence. The IDF also said it continues to hold Hamas responsible for “all occurrences in and from the Gaza Strip.”

    RT Breaking news

    • BrianFujisan

      Israeli jets strike several Gaza targets with The Most Advanced Weapons… Hit the worlds most populated refugees. CUNTS.

      • BrianFujisan

        So..I Forgot to Mention Israel War Crimes…White phosphorus, for example… And lets not get into Viet Nam… or Fallujah..Syria… SNP Sticking By these evil bastards…BAD MOVE.

  • Sharp Ears

    UK reluctance to file request to Russia under OPCW indicates their case is weak – Lavrov
    17 Mar 2018 | 21:33 GMT

    The UK’s failure to send a request to Moscow over the Skripal case via Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) channels points to a lack of legal basis for a proper investigation, Russia’s Foreign Minister said.

    “The fact, that they [UK officials] categorically rejects to file an official request and deliberately and arrogantly fan anti-Russian rhetoric in the public sphere bordering on hysteria, indicates that they clearly understand they have no formal pretext to go down a legal road,” Lavrov said on Friday, referring to the British authorities’ allegations that Russia, and, notably, President Vladimir Putin, were behind the plot to poison the former double agent and his daughter.


    Quite so.

  • PetrGrozny

    This should really go on another post and excuse me if someone already made it. Porton Down agree to say ‘of a type developed by Russia’ and the a few days later get 40 million plus quid. Should we be thinking about carrot rather than stick?

  • Monster

    Don’t expect any clear decision from the OPCW. Pressure is now probably being applied for some form of obfuscation. The Dutch are part of Team Nato; the ICJ was woefully biased in the Yugoslavia trials and the Arbitration Court is preparing to rule against Russia in its Ukraine dispute. And of course its thoroughly incompetent investigation of the MH17 air crash is reprehensible.

  • Resident Dissident

    “Russia has cooperated in the OPCW destruction of all its chemical weapons stocks,……”

    What is the evidence for this statement.

      • Resident Dissident

        Of course the Putin regime tells them everything and is always to be believed – at least in your eyes. A rather more dangerous game being a whistleblower in Russia I’m afraid – not that this forum will ever support those brave souls who do.

        • Resident Dissident

          The OPCW statements make it clear that there were no Novichoks in the chemical weapon stocks presented to them for destruction or accounted to them as destroyed. Do we really think it is tenable that Iranian scientists were able to produce them, but in only remained a theoretical project with the Russians or that they failed to do so?

          Well of course you do if you start from the position that the Putin regime can do no wrong.

          • malcolm harrison

            the work on Novichoks was being done in Uzbechistan, and the US cleared out the labs while the writer of this piece Craig Murray was UK embassador there. and you falsely disparage the commentators on this thread. nobody suggests Putin does not wrong, only that it is clear to many that the west has been out to get him for years, and that he is a man more sinned against than sinning.

      • Resident Dissident

        That press releases refers to the destruction of “declared” stockpiles not “all its chemical weapons stocks” as Craig claimed.

        Heaven forbid the Putin regime may not have declared something – which of course has never happened before.

        • Akos Horvath

          This ‘argument’ can be applied to any OPCW member state. How do we know the UK and the USA have declared all their stockpiles? You don’t have scientific evidence just a declaration of trust in your own government. Which is completely irrelevant in a scientific debate.

          • Resident Dissident

            But it is not me who is applying the argument but Craig in his claim “Russia has cooperated in the OPCW destruction of all its chemical weapons stocks,..” As has already demonstrated there is no evidence whatsoever for Craig’s claim – and the OPCW does not go as far as Craig.

          • Petr Grozny

            I don’t see how the OPCW or any other body could prove that a country doesn’t have chemical weapons, except perhaps San Marino or the Vatican City. They are rather easily underground.

          • Resident Dissident

            Quite so – so why did Craig put such words into the mouth of the OPCW. I for one are not daft enough to think it was an accident on his part.

        • Radio Jammor

          Perhaps you should ask the US that question. They are after all the state that publicly announced that they were cleaning up Novichok in Uzbekistan (with Uzbek approval), then later declared that they had done this (to the US Senate), whilst apparently neglecting to keep the OPCW in the loop.

          It’s either that or they lied about – or get very wrong – the fact that Novichok agents were present in Uzbekistan and decided to stay quiet about it and hope nobody noticed that they had spent US taxpayer money cleaning up a site that didn’t actually have the chemical weapon they said was there.

          If it wasn’t there, it also brings into question Dr. Mirzayanov’s claims about Novichok, as he was one of the sources that said it was present at the Uzbek site, in Nukus – yet was praised by the US in at a senate hearing in 2003, for bringing the matter to the public’s attention.

          So, Novichok was either there in Nukus and the US kept the information about it from the OPCW, or it wasn’t there, and the money spent on cleaning it up may have been misappropriated, or the cost exaggerated.

          • Resident Dissident

            I don’t think so – Craig claims that Russia destroyed ALL its chemical weapons stocks – that claim has not been substantiated.

            Dr. Mirzayanov’s claimed Novichoks were developed in Russia and tested in Uzbekistan – again not the same as Craig has claimed.

          • Radio Jammor

            *Rolls eyes at Resident Dissident*
            I’m going to write this slowly for you so maybe you’ll follow: The OPCW is the international body that substantiates whether chemical weapons have been destroyed. The stock destroyed was declared in 2003. It was advised at the time that it would take years to do, no doubt due to its volatile nature and the need for careful disposal.

            “Dr. Mirzayanov’s claimed Novichoks were developed in Russia and tested in Uzbekistan – again not the same as Craig has claimed.” – which is true, but to which I refer you back to my previous response about asking the US. The US claimed it cleaned up a site that both they and Uzbekistan said there was Novichok present at.

            The BBC reported: “According to a senior defector from the Soviet chemical weapons programme, the Soviets used the plant [at Nukus] 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.” This was in their article in 1999 about the US going into Nukus to clean up the Novichok there.

            Again, I ask, if it was present, why didn’t the US apprise the OPCW, who according to the NYT went there at some point prior to that 1999 article and said it was a testing site, a conclusion that Uzbekistan and the US disputed, believing that it was also a “pilot-scale production facility”?

            If Novichok wasn’t there, how come the US made so much of the revelations about the program at the 2003 senate hearing, thanking Dr. Mirzayanov for reporting the program?

            If it wasn’t there, why is there no record of the US backtracking on this?

            Either the US failed in its obligation to apprise the OPCW of its findings or it was wrong about Novichok being present (and therefore had nothing to give the OPCW) and kept their findings quiet for reasons of embarrassment or worse; such as false or incorrect funding claims. And what do they do with Dr. Mirzayanov and at least one other former Soviet scientist, who claimed Novichok was there?

            According to Dr. Mirzayanov, Novichok was there. Perhaps it was completely removed by the Soviet Russians, but there was something like a seven year gap between the Russians leaving and the Americans coming in, so who knows what went on there in the meantime.

            It opens up a number of possibilities that could mean that someone other than Russia gained possession of Novichok chemical weapons, via that Uzbekistan plant.

            But then, as Craig has pointed out, someone else could have worked out a way to make it, as Iran declared in January 2017.

            The upshot is that there are so many holes in the “it was Russia” argument, that taking action against Russia on such flimsy evidence seems to be, shall we say, political expediency, rather than diplomatically (or any other kind of) prudent.

        • PJ London

          No it does not!
          ‘THE HAGUE, Netherlands –11 October 2017– In the margins of the 86th Session of the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), a ceremony to mark the completion of the destruction of the Russian Federation’s chemical weapons took place today at the residence of Ambassador Alexander Shulgin’.
          The only reference to ‘declared’ is ‘With the total elimination of Russia’s declared chemical weapons programme, 96.3 per cent of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor States have been destroyed under OPCW verification’ which refers to the % of listed weapons which have been destroyed and the total elimination of Russia’s program.
          You can misrepresent it any way that you want to, and then say that Russia has not proven a negative but there is no reason to believe that Russia has ever manufactured Novichok, nor any evidence that it ever wished to.
          Have you stopped having illicit sexual thoughts about small animals?
          What evidence can you provide?

  • Dave Edwards

    In 1984 the BBC made probably the best and most horrifying film about the effect of a nuclear confrontation between Russia and US. An amazing piece of work.

    It is a docudrama account of nuclear war and its effects on the city of Sheffield in Northern England. The plot centres on two families as a confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union erupts. As the nuclear exchange between NATO and the Warsaw Pact begins, the film depicts the medical, economic, social and environmental consequences of nuclear war.

    Little did the writers know they were writing a script that could pan out for real 34 years later!

    The chronology of the events leading up to the war is depicted entirely via television and radio news broadcasts, as well as a few newspaper reports. On 5 March, a news broadcast from a car shows that an allegedly US-backed coup d’état in Iran prompts the Soviet Union to occupy the northern part of the country, ostensibly to prevent the return of a pro-Shah regime. On 8 May, the USA hints at deploying troops to Iran, to prevent the Soviets from reaching the oil fields in the south. On 11 May, the US Navy in the Indian Ocean is put on high alert when rumours begin to circulate of the disappearance of the USS Los Angeles in the Persian Gulf. The next day, a collision in the Gulf of Oman between the Soviet battlecruiser Kirov and the USS Callaghan leaves the former badly damaged. Subsequent discoveries by American and Israeli search and rescue vessels reveal debris and an oil slick from the missing Los Angeles, prompting the US President to warn the Soviets over the possibility of an “armed confrontation—with incalculable consequences for all mankind.”

  • Coiseam

    Honestly, I don’t understand why the “as developed by Russia” line is not called out for the lie it actually is. “Novichoks” were developed (if they ever really were) not by Russia but by THE SOVIET UNION. Russia is only one of the 15 successor states of the Soviet Union, and though it is the largest, it only comprised a little over half of that states population. A whole lot of scientists, engineers, military men etc ended up as citizens of the other states. And of course, many military and scientific sites ended up there also.

    • Resident Dissident

      Russia was always part of the Soviet Union – and the reality was that it ran the empire which extended well beyond the SU. its “power vertical” to use the Putinite term was pretty strong.

      • Petr Grozny

        I agree that USSR would be more accurate but I’d say that I’d say that the much bigger attempted deception is the equate ‘as developed by’ with ‘made-by’. I’d love to have some data on what level of intelligence is needed to see the difference.

      • LondonBob

        Ethnic Russians were decidedly a second class minority until they were needed after the Nazi invasion.

      • Christopher Dale Rogers


        As with many a chickenhawk, together with their neoliberal/neoconservative cohorts, I trust you’ll be first in the volunteer suicide squad the UK assembles to teach the Ruskies a few lessons.

        Surely, given no grounds for doubt, you’ll be first out of the aeroplane as our valiant suicidists jump to their doom in the service of Ms May and the Tory war Party.

        Perhaps our Russian adversaries, all armed with non-existent nerve weapons, will salute you as you thunder through the skies in a barrel roll, courtesy of the fact that the UK supplied parachute supplied with fails to open.

        Perhaps we can park our two aircraft carriers off the Crimea to scare the pants off those evil Ruskies, who’ll all be laughing into their vodka based on the fact our aircraft carriers actually have no aircraft – oh what a laugh, and oh what incompetence by the UK’s ruling elite, which still believes the UK Rules the Waves and the Soviet Union is still an existential threat, despite the fact it imploded in 1991.

        Give the hysteria a rest mate as its beyond parody.

        When it comes to willy waving contests with Russia, the UK loses everytime. And Ms May don’t even have a willy, neither does that man who’s testicles have yet to descend. What’s his name? Gavin Williamson, or is it Buffoon Boris?

  • bliss_porsena

    In any event where are the corpus delicti, the Shripals? Strapped down and stretchered off to Moscow by now, I should think.

  • RogerDodger

    This from May:

    “Russia’s response doesn’t change the facts of the matter – the attempted assassination of two people on British soil for which there is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian state was culpable.”

    She actually uses the phrase There Is No Alternative! Surely they must be getting desperate now.

  • P

    As far as I am concerned no one in Salisbury, including the Skripals have been poisoned by nerve agents.

    This “fact” comes courtesy of the Lead Consultant at A&E in Salisbury.

    Until this information is retracted / corrected I shall be worrying about what the US are planning to do in Syria (on the back of that False, False Flag) and the potentially rapid decent into WWIII.

    If the US do commit to a heavy assault on Syria in response to recent False False Flag incidents, it is to be expected (because the Russians said they will) that the Russians will attack to the US Mission Launch Platforms, this may well include their Mach 10 Sea Skimming Missile Technology (Aircraft, Submarines, Amphibious Landing Craft complete with 2,500 Marines, Carriers and Cruise Missile Ships.

    And let’s see where it goes from there.

  • Mrs E Somers

    Even today Sunday 18/3/18 the bbc is still pumping out this tripe even tho the Scientists in Porton Down say this cannot be proven beyond a doubt that this Nerve Agent came from Russia

    • P

      Apparently there was no nerve agent in Salisbury so probably can’t be proved that it didn’t come from Russia or indeed Israel

  • Dr. Ip

    The BMW 320D (D=diesel) that Skripal owned, depending on the year, costs 40K euros new and goes for between 20K and 30K euros used. And, just to note, on the BBC website Mr Skripal is now being referred to as: “Retired military intelligence officer…” ( After all, a 20-40K car for a pensioner is quite a feat these days. But then, he did provide quite a useful service for HMG.
    The question is: Was he retired? Or was he being retired by HMG?

    Another question (or three): Right at the beginning of the news coverage there was a good-looking young lady who stuck her face in the camera and said something to the effect that she had found them on the bench going into convulsions and had alerted the local services. Did she touch them? Was she infected with anything? Where has she disappeared to?

    • Kempe

      It’s a 2009 model which had one previous owner (Skripal bought it second hand), has about 77,000 miles on the clock and is worth about £5,300.

  • Sharp Ears

    Did you see and hear Treeza at the so called Spring Forum, dressed in white, as pure as the driven snow, not?.

    The partei was very cagey about the location which seemed to be some large banqueting hall.

    From the registration site:
    .When is the Conservative Spring Forum?
    The Conservative Spring Forum will take place on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th March 2018.

    Where will the Conservative Spring Forum take place?
    The Conservative Spring Forum will be taking place in Central London, easily accessible by public transport. The exact location will be emailed to all registered delegates 48 hours before the event, on Wednesday 14th March. This is due to security considerations.

    LOL Scared of a few protestors

    What a hypocrite when she and Hunt are doing their best to demoralize the staff and dismantle and destroythe NHS. Don’t tell me she queued up at the OPs dept at Wexham Park Hospital (nearest district general hospital to her home) for her diabetes diagnosis and treatment.

    Theresa May: I rely on the NHS every day and I am eternally grateful to them

  • Hairyloon

    I find it very damaging to your credibility that you link to what you call “Hard evidence”, that leads only to another of your own pages.
    Can you perhaps link to some primary sources?

  • ModReb

    Asking the cui bono question is still the most productive line of inquiry because even if it does not result in the capture of the perpetrators, it is a guide as to where we are headed next.

    There is a clear pattern to these events that is to do with neocon/Israeli policy in the Middle East. Allegations of chemical warfare by Assad. Allegations of chemical warfare by Putin. Humiliating defeat of US-led coalition in Syria by the Russian airforce. Millions spent on psyops by US/UK in Syria in order to prepare home audience for military intervention. And what is the ultimate goal, the prize, of neocon strategy in the region? They have told us themselves: regime change in Iran.

    They aren’t going to risk war with Russia are they? They want to make war on Iran. Attacking Iran’s most powerful ally is the precursor.

    It’s maybe helpful that Israel is the only country involved in this scenario that isn’t signed up to the OPCW.

    The Russians are warning of military preparations for a false flag chemical incident in Syria… there’s a buildup of the US fleet in the Med… Tillerson’s out and Pompeo’s in… this doesn’t look good.

    And, of course, Macron got a call from Washington to remind him he’s not General de Gaulle and there’s to be no more going off piste as in the first French press conference after the Salisbury incident. NATO ducks lined up

  • Dave Edwards

    Cyprus is a favourite of Russians. We have neighbours that are Russians. My wife teaches Russian and Israeli children at nursery amongst others. Young brains not corrupted by propaganda….yet.
    Unlike many in the West I have actually met a Russian. We meet when we are walking the dogs regularly. She has a name, Tanya. She lives in Cyprus, has a job working in an office. She is intelligent, speaks at least three languages including very good English. She is no fan of Putin as I am not of May, Boris and Gavin. All this anti Russian propaganda upsets her.
    She is not a Ruskie, Dam Red, a Putin stooge, an Oligarth, a member of the Russian mafia, a Troll, a spy etc etc……….
    There are millions like her.
    Easy to forget 99.9999% of this world are just trying to make a living and to provide for their families no matter where they come from and we all despair at this continuous war mongering.
    My other Russian neighbour is also “normal”.

    Time for a coffee of a type manufactured in Brazil, bought in the shop up the road.

    We, in Cyprus, are probably doomed should all this go pear shaped being less than 100 miles between Cyprus and Syria. As soon as US attacks, just stock up with food, water and lots of alcohol and hope for the best.

  • Made By Dom

    Maybe I’m missing something here…. but haven’t we already established the phrase “of a type developed by Russia” is a cunningly worded way of saying originally invented? So, we haven’t really made nonsense of Theresa May’s line. It’s a great line – in weaselly, machiavellian terms.
    The interesting thing about that Guardian article (which is really just an attack on Corbyn’s Mafia theory) is how inexperienced Mirzayanov sounds. The phrase “you need a very high qualified professional scientist” could only have come from someone who is not a scientist. Ultimately, he was just a health and safety whistleblower that, in a bid to sell a few more copies oh his book, is claiming to be a bit more of an expert than he really is. I’m surprised he’s not commenting on this website (just kidding).

    • malcolm harrison

      my impression is that the thing about Novichoks is that they can be made out of easily available materials. If the phrase “of a type developed by Russia” simply means that Russia first came up with the idea of deriving chemical weapons from combining commercially available substances, then it makes even more nonsense of Theresa May’s assertions.

  • Republicofscotland

    The constantly prevaricating press, led by the media and the British government, are hell bent on blaming Russia. Looking at the rogue states such as Israel, a military apartheid state known for using chemical attacks on people they see as undesirable must surely now be looked upon as the most likely culprit.

    However don’t hold your breath waiting for the British media or government looking in that direction.

    “Of a type developed by Russia” is an attempt to lay blame withput proof.

  • Norton Orban

    At the end it will be visible, that douzens of countries, have had access to the Soviet Union research results regarding the Novichok line of CW agents and continued with Owen experiments.
    Not to be ignored, Vil Sultan Mirzayev was employed at the University of Prineton.

  • Spencer Eagle

    Move on from ‘Novichoks’, Craig, it’s nothing but a distraction. The real questions are who and why?

  • malcolm harrison

    this is a fast moving narrative. maybe the Guardian hasnt caught up yet. maybe. hopefully, the info here will seep out into the broader public, swiftly enough to dent May’s assurances. there is a fear, widely expressed, that the government’s narrative is not an ad hoc response, but signifies similar sinister motives that accompanied the tales of Iraq’s possession of WMDs. this is not an unreasonable fear, given the undue haste and the degree of conviction that attends the government’s rhetoric. but it may be simply incompetence on May’s part. Trump’s support seems muted, and support from Germany and France can disappear like a morning mist. meanwhile, Putin is busy being re-elected, and I get the impression from some of his recent comments, that his legendary patience with the west is wearing thin.

  • Peter AU

    “immediately reported the results to the OPCW so they could be added to the chemical weapons database”

    I cannot find any mention of this at the OPCW site. Have read through a number of reports and annexes of chemicals to be added to database for that time period, but can find nothing.

  • Gary

    Whilst her statement is absolute nonsense it IS, as with many Prime Minesterial Statements, not actually Untrue.

    It IS of a type developed by the Russians. However, the phrase has no meaning whatsoever.

    What is MORE telling is the DESIRE to push Porton Down to label this as having been made in Russia when it is clearly not possible for them to say this.

    So she’s left with a phrase that states ‘the Russians WERE working on something similar once, but we can’t confirm THIS sample’s origin’

    The government position has gone from saying it will be a time-consuming exercise to investigate the attack, to outright blaming Vladimir Putin.

    On ONE thing I am wary, however. As I have seen, particularly in the Scottish Referendum, the PM of the day will ‘keep their hands clean’ by using ‘weasel words’ to ensure that nothing they say is actually a LIE. But another Minister, backbencher or ‘unnamed source’ will happily use the most inadvised phraseology and make wild accusations. They can say anything, as the PM can slap them down later and deny this to be the Government’s position


  • Martin Dutton

    As soon as I saw May et al denouncing and blaming the Russians without evidence I smelt a rat. People watch police programs all the time and know about judicial processes etc so to just expect us to believe whatever ‘the government’ says just seemed bizarre if not delusional. There should be laws against ANYBODY blaming and then punishing ANY third party WITHOUT conclusive evidence because of all the dangerous ramifications. The behaviour of the government is simply irresponsible and extremely disruptive. I believe they actually know this and are, in effect, playing ‘mind games’. The public SHOULD NOT have to second guess its government.

  • Tom Smythe

    I would echo Dec’s comments below and encourage people to read the full text of peer-reviewed Iranian article on the 5 novichoks published in the Journal of Spectroscopy. It is available free online by google search of ‘researchgate + title’ or you can pay $6 USD for the pdf from Wiley. For that matter you can simply put the very potent nerve gas diisopropyl fluorophosphate from Sigma-Aldrich, in your checkout cart for $395 a gram. It’s used in glaucoma.

    The 1993 interview with Vladimir Uglev is also very instructive. He was the actual chemist at Volsk-17 who first made three of the five novichoks that were pursued further. http://www/ page 18. Vil Mirzayyanov was just concerned with facility containment.

    Note first that the published synthetic route is easy enough for home actors and at the micro scale vastly safer than kilotonne weapons scale. Second, note that the nmr and mass spectrometry are far from straightforward — indeed this is the very reason they were working with the chem weapons agency, to provide empirical standards for identification: it can’t be done satisfactorily from theory.

    Third, it raises questions about how much progress Porton Down has actually made in identifying the agent, the red flag for me being unspecific ‘Novichok’ for what is not a chemical but a whole class of them with over a hundred members. PD may have had access to only nanogram quantities and those might have come with considerable environmental or reagent contamination.

    The doctor’s statement is very curious indeed. This hospital would be ‘first responder’ to Porton Down accidents and so staff would be well trained with on symptoms with ample pralidoxime on hand to administer. But evidently emergency staff saw no need for it in this instance. I wonder if this was poisoning with stolen cadmium instead, like the tainted sausage eaten by the Russian banker and his secretary. Or an insecticide like malathion from a farm supply store. Or a mix of remifentanil/carfentanil like the Russians used in the theatre hostage crisis. Indeed “another two homeless people on fentanyl” was the first reaction of both bystanders and police. Yulia got an immediate airlift to the hospital while her dad reportedly lay there an hour.

    Whatever, the authorities have dug themselves into a deep deep hole with the timeline, especially with the detective. The idea here is that a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.

    • DDTea

      Just because Aldrich lists a chemical does not mean any bloke, even one with credentials from a prominent research institution, can order it without questions. You will also find LSD, cocaine, and methamphetamine standards in the Aldrich catalog as well.

      The claim that this published synthesis is within the capability of home actors is ludicrous. The synthesis starts from methyl phosphonic difluoride, a Schedule 1 precursor under the Chemical Weapons Convention. You can’t buy that in a store. You can’t order it from a catalog. You have to go through the messy steps of making it (including the nasty fluorination chemistry), using other regulated chemicals. Cutting corners leads to failure, in these cases. “But on a micro scale…” Micro scale does not mean “easy.” In fact, it’s fraught with its own unique challenges. The only reason micro scale has become the norm in academic labs is because of technological advancements in analytical instrumentation (including robotic autosamplers), computation, data science, etc. But such discussion is irrelevant to the capabilities of a garage chemist.

      There’s a reason amateur chemists tend to work on the 1 g – 100 g scale. Much below or above that are not practical with the means available to them. And even the mg – gram scale with Novichoks, in a clandestine garage lab, is suicidal. These are volatile, highly toxic chemicals with no effective antidote (like Soman, they undergo ‘aging’ too rapidly for oxime reactivation–so the mention of pralidoxime is irrelevant). Even if you work safely, where are your emissions going? You’ll contaminate the entire neighborhood!

      Notice the special equipment used in the referenced paper: “It should be noted that, due to the extreme toxicity of these materials, the separation and purification of CWC-related chemical are very difficult and therefore should be carried out only by a trained professional in an efficient fume cupboard equipped with an active charcoal filtration system.”

      Even in major research institutions, the average synthetic lab does not have active charcoal filters on their fume hoods.

      • Tom Smythe

        Really? Post your address and I will have your Aldrich shipment of diisopropyl fluorophosphate shipped there directly. (Hint: it is widely used in the study of serine proteases — and acetylcholinesterase. It is a common reagent in biochemistry labs. I’ve used it myself.)

        Here is David B Collum, Prof of Organic Chemistry at Cornell University on novochuks 15 Mar 18 :

        “To all you fuckwitted nerve gas/geopolitical experts: the nerve agent attributed to the Rooskies is trivial to make. Stop saying it points to the Russians or it couldn’t be easily characterized. Maybe they did it; maybe they didn’t, but many would like it to look like Russia.”

        • DDTea

          I’ll take your word on DIFP then. However, I’ve had issues ordering ethylene chlorohydrin for a ligand synthesis, for example. That being said, I have about 100 mL of diethyl chlorophosphate in our lab fridge. Useful peptide coupling reagent.

          I’ve also lost a lot of respect for Prof. Collum after reading his twitter. What a douchebag. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, the complexity goes far beyond “making” it, and academics seem to have tunnel vision around this point.

          The case I’m making is that these are far beyond the capacity of non-state actors. And as for state actors, the prime suspect is quite reasonably the folks who have demonstrated know how with these nerve agents–i.e., the ones who invented them, not the folks still playing catch up.

  • DDTea

    Big difference between synthesizing the agent on an analytical scale (GC/MS and LC/MS/MS require only milligrams of sample) and weaponizing it–especially if it’s a dusty agent, as is now being alleged. Completely different skill sets.

    But it’s disingenuous to suggest that the sole barrier to using these nerve agents is their synthesis. The toxicological profile, physical properties, and spectral characteristics of Mirzayanov’s reported agents are not in the public literature. These would all have to be determined. It was not generally known that these are even effective nerve agents (i.e., not environmentally labile). This would also have to be studied. Synthesizing the agents and testing them–safely–would be a major R&D undertaking requiring significant expenditures and capital investment to handle such high potency compounds. Choosing the one fit for the present assassination attempts (given that there are allegedly hundreds of variations) could only stem from such efforts. This was absolutely a state sponsored attack.

    You’re using slippery language in this article. Russia has not destroyed its “entire” chemical weapons stockpile. It has destroyed its “declared” chemical weapons stockpile. And the “Kolokol” opioid gas used in 2002 is evidence enough that their CWC declaration is incomplete. What else haven’t they declared?

  • None

    Whats the particulate size of Novichok and would it pass through the pollen filter of the BMW? Just wondering how its possible as the official line is it was delivered through the air vents of the car, unless the pollen filter was removed or the Novichok was placed in the system after the pollen filter.

  • john bushby

    No one yet has even mentioned possible CIA involvement in all of this. They have past form. There is definitely something strange going on.

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