The Novichok Story Is Indeed Another Iraqi WMD Scam 575

As recently as 2016 Dr Robin Black, Head of the Detection Laboratory at the UK’s only chemical weapons facility at Porton Down, a former colleague of Dr David Kelly, published in an extremely prestigious scientific journal that the evidence for the existence of Novichoks was scant and their composition unknown.

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)

Robin Black. (2016) Development, Historical Use and Properties of Chemical Warfare Agents. Royal Society of Chemistry

Yet now, the British Government is claiming to be able instantly to identify a substance which its only biological weapons research centre has never seen before and was unsure of its existence. Worse, it claims to be able not only to identify it, but to pinpoint its origin. Given Dr Black’s publication, it is plain that claim cannot be true.

The world’s international chemical weapons experts share Dr Black’s opinion. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is a UN body based in the Hague. In 2013 this was the report of its Scientific Advisory Board, which included US, French, German and Russian government representatives and on which Dr Black was the UK representative:

[The SAB] emphasised that the definition of toxic chemicals in the Convention would cover all potential candidate chemicals that might be utilised as chemical weapons. Regarding new toxic chemicals not listed in the Annex on Chemicals but which may nevertheless pose a risk to the Convention, the SAB makes reference to “Novichoks”. The name “Novichok” is used in a publication of a former Soviet scientist who reported investigating a new class of nerve agents suitable for use as binary chemical weapons. The SAB states that it has insufficient information to comment on the existence or properties of “Novichoks”. (OPCW, 2013)

OPCW: Report of the Scientific Advisory Board on developments in science and technology for the Third Review Conference 27 March 2013

Indeed the OPCW was so sceptical of the viability of “novichoks” that it decided – with US and UK agreement – not to add them nor their alleged precursors to its banned list. In short, the scientific community broadly accepts Mirzayanov was working on “novichoks” but doubts he succeeded.

Given that the OPCW has taken the view the evidence for the existence of “Novichoks” is dubious, if the UK actually has a sample of one it is extremely important the UK presents that sample to the OPCW. Indeed the UK has a binding treaty obligation to present that sample to OPCW. Russa has – unreported by the corporate media – entered a demand at the OPCW that Britain submit a sample of the Salisbury material for international analysis.

Yet Britain refuses to submit it to the OPCW.


A second part of May’s accusation is that “Novichoks” could only be made in certain military installations. But that is also demonstrably untrue. If they exist at all, Novichoks were allegedly designed to be able to be made at bench level in any commercial chemical facility – that was a major point of them. The only real evidence for the existence of Novichoks was the testimony of the ex-Soviet scientist Mizayanov. And this is what Mirzayanov actually wrote.

One should be mindful that the chemical components or precursors of A-232 or its binary version novichok-5 are ordinary organophosphates that can be made at commercial chemical companies that manufacture such products as fertilizers and pesticides.

Vil S. Mirzayanov, “Dismantling the Soviet/Russian Chemical Weapons Complex: An Insider’s View,” in Amy E. Smithson, Dr. Vil S. Mirzayanov, Gen Roland Lajoie, and Michael Krepon, Chemical Weapons Disarmament in Russia: Problems and Prospects, Stimson Report No. 17, October 1995, p. 21.

It is a scientific impossibility for Porton Down to have been able to test for Russian novichoks if they have never possessed a Russian sample to compare them to. They can analyse a sample as conforming to a Mirzayanov formula, but as he published those to the world twenty years ago, that is no proof of Russian origin. If Porton Down can synthesise it, so can many others, not just the Russians.

And finally – Mirzayanov is an Uzbek name and the novichok programme, assuming it existed, was in the Soviet Union but far away from modern Russia, at Nukus in modern Uzbekistan. I have visited the Nukus chemical weapons site myself. It was dismantled and made safe and all the stocks destroyed and the equipment removed by the American government, as I recall finishing while I was Ambassador there. There has in fact never been any evidence that any “novichok” ever existed in Russia itself.

To summarise:

1) Porton Down has acknowledged in publications it has never seen any Russian “novichoks”. The UK government has absolutely no “fingerprint” information such as impurities that can safely attribute this substance to Russia.
2) Until now, neither Porton Down nor the world’s experts at the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) were convinced “Novichoks” even exist.
3) The UK is refusing to provide a sample to the OPCW.
4) “Novichoks” were specifically designed to be able to be manufactured from common ingredients on any scientific bench. The Americans dismantled and studied the facility that allegedly developed them. It is completely untrue only the Russians could make them, if anybody can.
5) The “Novichok” programme was in Uzbekistan not in Russia. Its legacy was inherited by the Americans during their alliance with Karimov, not by the Russians.

With a great many thanks to sources who cannot be named at this moment.

Please Also Read My follow-up to this article: “Bothered by Midgies”

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575 thoughts on “The Novichok Story Is Indeed Another Iraqi WMD Scam

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  • werner mauss

    the russians have to much to loose.and there is no proof, coming to my conclusions that may, johnson and co are liars. stop this madness if you can.May represent not the people of the uk !!! shame on you may.

  • Wayne T Baker

    My question is why novichok? Two people one with a record of being a double agent are dead and the line of how is easily disproved. I don’t pretend to know how these acts of international intrigue are even considered yet it seems it would have been less suspicious to arrange their deaths in some other way. Yet that makes the entire reason unreasonable since Skripal was not a threat unless the British themselves came to that conclusion considering his connection to Christopher Steele.

    • Jenny G

      These people are not dead, just in a serious condition,although nobody has seen them, in hospital and no Photos..

  • Mr G. H. Schorel-Hlavka O.W.B.

    My posting this morning may give some answers.
    With about 32,000 potential jihadist in the UK, one has to wonder why blame the Russians about poison chemicals when they got plenty of would be jihadist who may just have done the job.

    This document can be downloaded from:

  • Fred Blogs

    Yet Britain refuses to submit it to the OPCW. Now that Britain has submitted the sample to the OPCW, you pro Russian nonsense has fallen apart yet again. You also seem to have difficultly understanding basic English.

    “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.”

    The information from Mirzayanov will have been available to US allies like the UK, and he will have known the compounds structure. No independent confirmation means just that, but it does not negate the fact that one of the scientists that worked on novichok reported enough details of it for scientists from Porton Down to be able to identify it.

    • Zolko

      @Fred Blogs : “scientists from Porton Down to be able to identify it.”

      Yes, they *might* be able to identify the chemical substance, the article says that too. But the UK claim that they have also identified where the substance originates from, where it has been manufactured, and *that* is impossible since they don’t have samples.

    • Proper questioning

      How did they track the source?
      Is it not a bit absurd from the government to just speculate or point hands without hard evidence..
      The Czech president and many western ambassadors have said they haven’t seen or given hard evidence to expel the Russian diplomats..

    • Olaf S

      He seems actually to confirm the words of spokeswoman Zakharova that the term ”Novichok” was not used when this stuff was developed in the Sovjet Union. (rather ”Foliant”).

      We learn that doses ot the stuff got into the hands of criminals i the chaotic 90-s. The fellow who poisoned the bankier Kivelidi got away. Some some say he flew to the U.S. He may have brought samples to cheer up the Americans, who knows. Other criminals may have sold it to foreigners, also.

      Btw, when it comes to the often mentioned Mirzayanov, i doubt he is among the most objective sources/commentators. According the bio published in Guardian, he was at one point helped out by (fanatical) Russia-hater Soros, and may well be in the pocket of the billionaire…like many others.

      (When it comes to Soros, my private conspiration theory is that he secretly has taken control of publications like der Spiegel, once a flagship of critical journalism in Europe, nowadays as one-sided anti-Russian as it gets, almost on the level of David Cameron… And completely in line with the american ”deep state” thinking when it comes to taking down Trump, it seems).

  • JOH

    Wake up everbody.
    I live in London and wrote the following a week ago: Why is it when an honourable French policeman sacrifices his life for all the right reasons and his killer also murders three others it’s not treated like the international crises appropriated to the attempted poisoning of two people in England? Despite the policeman who discovered the two unconscious Russians in Salsbury stating that he didn’t wish to be regarded as a hero the British PM Theresa May escalated this event to the maximum political extream, in seeking international support, despite the fact that no one died.
    In France, four people actually died but because of some odd political protocol, they are not worthy of the same symbolic value.
    I welcome any thoughts on this. Something’s going on. What’s going on?

  • Ralph Ryder

    Why then are western countries so eager to support the UK [obvious] claim that they have the evidence and Russia is the guilty nation. Why are nations treating Russia like a leper colony?

    • Jeremy Walford

      The nations that are supporting the UK narrative are pretty much all nato states, and are simply marching in lock step for political and strategic reasons. Even yesterday the US spokesperson admitted that the US has seen absolutely no evidence to support the tory version of events, but is simply accepting that the UK has evidence

  • Olaf S

    Imagine that an independent team of Britain’s top-notch forensic experts, given total access to even top secret material, was given the task to find the perpetrator(s). After having established that poisoning with a deadly substance really took place place, they probably would have compiled a list of suspects, somewhat like the one below: (random order, included some far out possibilities such as)

    1. Double suicide attempt. Or the daughter got contaminated by trying to stop the father, or by hugging him at the wrong moment. Something along those lines. Skripal was in bad health already 20 years ago, he may have felt he was dying anyway. The daughter may have felt she had lost everything: All close family members (mother, brother, now father), and being considered a ”traitor’s daughter” at home).

    2. MI6! They could have found that Skripal had contacted Russian diplomats to get permission to return to Russia, in their eyes threatening to become a triple agent (or will it be quadruple?). They remembered how the Litvinenko case had been a smashing hit in terms of anti-Russian propaganda, and decided to stage something similar.

    3. CIA! They have lived in fear and horror after a US president was elected, who had promised cooperation with Russia instead of confrontation…

    4. Involvement of the Ukraine government or a group from the country’s far right section? Both have also been terrified by the mentioned Trump agenda. Forced peace with the separatists and ”the aggressor” Russia, would take away a convenient scapegoat for every problem in the country, and the tired, but relieved population might again vote for at Russian-friendly leadership. (The present government is now likely celebrating wildly, also because the grotesque Savchenko case is being overshadowed in the Western news reporting).

    5. Single private persons like billionaire Soros, who always wanted to see Russia destroyed, and who must have established a wide net of contacts among Putin’s opponents through the years (including a certain former Soviet chemical weapons expert, who defected at an early stage..).

    6. Russian groups, consisting of people hating Skripal for his betrayal, or for other reason. Our independent investigators would search assistance from the Russian Government, since

    7. they are not able to find a single, even microscopic, reason for suspecting Putin’s participation. (”Nobody will shoot himself in the foot”).

    8. The Polish Defense Minister! He has publicly declared that civilisation ends at Poland’s eastern borders (asking for help to defend it). He has not been satisfied with the response, and arranged the murder, ordering” barbarian Russian fingerprints” to be left at the scene of crime.

    9. Everybody else! The smart, very senior investigators would probably invite several experienced (retired) diplomats from countries like China, Finland,Argentina to hear their opinion, make suggestions. ( following the well-known Chines proverb: You want a good advice? Ask 3 old men).

    The list goes on and on. but enough! I am old and (re)tired.


    • diet

      my thoughts exactly, very suspicious: the speed with which the fingers were pointed at Putin!

  • Graeme Ferguson

    I see the latest mainstream news is stating that the nerve agent was on their home door handle, which raises the question of why they were not incapacitated at the house as it is supposedly a quick acting agent?

  • Irma

    The Latest: UK Asks Chemical Watchdog to Examine Sample
    Britain says it has asked the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to examine a sample of the nerve agent used to poison Sergei and Yulia Skripal.
    What else the stupid Auther of this article has to say now

  • Jim Butler-Daulby

    I’m still confused as to why other countries are expelling Russian diplomats on the flimsiest of “evidence”!? What else is going on behind closed doors? And now that both DS Nick Bailey (?) and Yulia appear to have recovered, how serious was this “assassination” attempt?

  • Marrilyn Eden

    How Would THIIS Government ( if you can call it That) Behave if they were accused of using nerve gas in this way?with no concrete evidence!???? The whole picture is very very Sinister!

  • Olaf S

    I don’t find the international support overwhelming. ”150 expelled diplomats” sounds good by first glance, of course. But more than 2/3 of this does not really count. I mean, whaddiya expect from Ukraine and from America’s new friends in eastern Europe? 106 from USA alone (included those from Nato, realpolitisch gesehen an organization under USA, sorry Stoltenberg) is just ridiculous and have to do with paying back for Britain’s Niebelungstrue (Iraq etc) and perhaps with Trump faking repentance after making the Deep State furious/horrified by congratulating Putin with the election victory…
    Expelling 1 or 2 diplomats (most countries) means: ”We do not believe in this nonsense about Russia attacking, but we still want to support an old friend, and we know it would be a devastating blow to its prestige if we didn’t, apart from the incredible pressure from you-know-who, you know”. Can almost be considered a support to Russia, and Russian diplomats will understand this immediately.
    Expelling 4 diplomats by really big countries like Germany and France? Essentially the same thing. At least not ”very overwhelming”.
    Expelling 0 diplomats (a few countries) is an almost devastating blow to May, and must be seen as a serious reproach, because it means that they found it necessary to stand up against the pressure from you-know-who (and from the majority of other countries, now feeling their hypocrisy (and cowardice?) exposed).

  • Steve McIntyre

    You said” And finally – Mirzayanov is an Uzbek name and the novichok programme, assuming it existed, was in the Soviet Union but far away from modern Russia, at Nukus in modern Uzbekistan.”

    Mirzayanov was from Tatarstan, from a (lapsed) Muslim family. In 2009, while Obama admin was flirting with Tatarstan dissidents, Mirzayanov proclaimed himself as President of an independent Tatarstan.

  • Adam Clifford

    Just wondering did Porton Down[now that they have confirmed that they could not trace it to Russia]actually identify the nerve agent as a novichok and which one?To me ,if as you say,they were designed to be manufactured ‘from common ingredients on any scientific bench’,there is a hell of a dangerous possibility here.Why are these seriously heavy duty means being used to kill people.Plutonium and now this[then the umbrella].How are assassinations usually carried out[seriously weird question]?Are there a lot of them?

  • Andrew H

    There is no comparison with the wmd saga and invasion of iraq, and to portray it as such is as big an untruth as any being told by the government. Kicking out a few diplomats is a reasonable coarse of action without proof. Innocent until proven guilty is not applicable or appropriate in this case. Bare in mInd that many of those asked to pack their bags are suspected (unproven) spies. Whilst no doubt this is suboptimal for the families, this is a reality that every diplomat signs up for. Russia, should not be involved in the investigation – the British police are best suited to do the investigation without political or foreign interference. They may never come to any conclusion, especially as this hit seems to have been done professionally, but that is not a requirement. The lack of a solved case does not mean the government should not take measured steps such as expelling diplomats. Fortunately, neither the uk or Russia is good at keeping state secrets, so in perhaps 20 years someone will eventually spill the beans. Perhaps, it would be better if the government would just say there is a reasonable possibility that the Russians perpetrated this crime so we have decided to expel a few diplomats, and perhaps putin instead of pretending that this is unreasonable would just concede that this was to be expected, but obviously they also need to expel a few of ours to make it equal. There is huge exaggeration on all sides, not least from this website.

  • kirit pankhania

    Politicians clamouring for war and doing their deceitful best to distract. Mainstream media maintains manipulation of mediocre minds.

    Wake up world.

    Shameful of UK government

  • Alexander Reid

    I dont really know how long you are going to just BLAH-BLAH;;;
    Who the on Earth r you:just someone who knows from inside;why r u still talking to us is what passes me

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