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Chemical Weapons - An Expose

Chemical Weapons - An Expose

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Published by SyncOrSwim
Chemical weapons specialist for the former Soviet Union, Vil Mirzayanov, offers unique insights into the business and technology of chemical weapons. In 1992 Russian authorities showed their appreciation for him spilling the beans by throwing Dr. Mirzayanov in jail.
Chemical weapons specialist for the former Soviet Union, Vil Mirzayanov, offers unique insights into the business and technology of chemical weapons. In 1992 Russian authorities showed their appreciation for him spilling the beans by throwing Dr. Mirzayanov in jail.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: SyncOrSwim on Nov 15, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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n the coming weeks the ratication o theParis Chemical Weapons Convention is ex-
pected to be a major topic o debate in boththe Russian State Duma and the US Senate.The aim o the convention is clear—to save
mankind orever rom the danger o mass de-
struction by some o the world’s most barbarous
weapons. Few are amiliar with the actual word-ing o the treaty, but it is natural to ask to whatextent the convention will ensure that this goal
is achieved, and how reliable this multilateral
agreement will be. Indeed, is the implementationo the convention likely to lead to greater security
and to a more peaceul and stable world?
In the past, the development and stockpiling
o all kinds o weaponry—including chemicalweapons—inevitably resulted in endangeringthe saety o humanity. Yet chemical weaponsproduction was always justied by the statedintentions o the governments concerned, i.e.,
ensuring the security o the nation’s population.
Now the destruction o such weaponry has been
placed on the international agenda.
Ater the deeat o Germany in 1945, the Allies
carried out a thoroughgoing policy o destroy-
ing Germany’s military potential. Over 130,000tons o chemical weapons were disposed o by
crude methods, i.e., by simply burning, burying,or drowning the stockpiles.
What were the results? In the rst place, thereare now two enormous marine burial sites at the
bottom o the Baltic Sea which constitute a per-
petual threat to the population o the neighboringcountries. According to scientic estimates, a por-
tion o these munitions will begin to leak in 5-10years, giving o lethal toxins. Secondly, in bothRussia and the West a chemical arms race gath-ered speed, using the latest German technology.
Initially, the Soviet Union was unsuccessul inachieving regular production o liquid uels at theenormous German plants that had been shippedrom Germany to the Soviet Union and set up in
the cities o Angarsk, Salavat, and Novochebok-
sarsk. However, ater a ew years productiono toxic chemicals began at relocated Germanacilities in Dzerzhinsk and Volgograd. The
country was starving, but the communist regimewas busily orging German chemical weapons atbreakneck speed or use against its ormer allies.Unortunately, these plants employed inadequatetechnology and the level o saety was extremelylow. Moreover, the Volgograd plant was adjacent
to a densely populated urban area; the waste e-
fuents ormed a lake in the immediate vicinity o apartment houses. The population did not suspect
that it was being steadily poisoned.In 1986, by virtue o my position as head o 
the division responsible or combating oreign
technical espionage at the Soviet State Scientic
Research Institute or Organic Chemistry and
Technology (GSNIIOKhT), I directed the devel-opment o methods or preventing any inorma-
tion leaks rom chemical weapon plants. Ater
studying the situation at the Volgograd ScienticProduction Association (Khimprom), I started toemploy my own methods o gas chromatographicdetermination o trace amounts o (the nerve gas)
soman in emissions o ventilating air and efu-
ent water. (Previously, biochemical methods o analysis had been employed.)The rst results o these analyses were shat-
tering. The concentrations in the atmosphere asa result o air emissions exceeded the maximum
permissible amounts 80-150 times. Systematic
research subsequently established that there wereno errors in these calculations. Moreover, similaranalyses were carried out three months later dur-
ing a temporary halt in production. (The plantollowed a cyclical production schedule.) The
results were equally appalling. This meant that
in the course o production the acility’s brick
chimney absorbed such large quantities o soman
that the gases emitted contained enough o theagent to poison the surrounding air indenitely.Once one is aware o these acts, it becomes
An Expos�
Doctor o Chemical Sciences
imperative to warn those who are so eager to
convert ormer military plants to civilian produc-
tion. The results o analyses o efuent water in
Volgograd were even more devastating. In this
case, the maximum permitted concentration wasexceeded up to 1,000 times! For decades, the plant
had been not so much orging weapons against
the imperialists as ruining the health o the people
o its own country.
As ar as I am concerned, the technical cause
o this barbarity is clear: The technology or de-
gasication developed by GSNIIOKhT was unda-mentally deective. Subsequently, my research onthe degree o degasication o the inamous new
agent A-230, which is 5-8 times more eective
than all previously developed toxic substances,
demonstrated that this technology presented
similar problems.I gave a ull report on all my ndings to Vik-
tor Petrunin, director o GSNIIOKhT, as wellas to the USSR Ministry o Chemical Industry.
In response, the director strongly criticized me
or my “discovery” and warned o the possible
consequences it might have or my career as
well as or his own, since the resulting scandal
might disturb some highly placed personages.I became ully convinced that he meant what
he said ater I gave an ocial report at a meet-
ing o top ocials o the Ministry in the all o 
1987. Without any investigation, Deputy Minister
Sergei Golubkov (ormer Chie Engineer o theVolgograd plant) simply “cancelled” my results.
Then I nally understood that my bosses did not
want any accurate inormation—in act, just the
opposite. The only issue that concerned each
was his own career.
For this reason I was orbidden to visit No-vocheboksarsk, where the plant or the produc-
tion o agent 33 was located—according to the
ocial version, 33 is still supposed to be the gas
YX. However, even without being able to visit
the plant in person, I am aware o its major tech-
nological deciencies, which inevitably have re-sulted in just as high a degree o environmental
pollution as in Volgograd. This is just an exampleo the way in which the potential contribution o scientists is totally wasted, since the people at the
top are interested only in getting the required
production gures at any cost, without the slight-
est consideration or human welare.I am constantly reminded o such instances,
now that the same top leadership is striving to
carry out chemical disarmament in our long-
suering country—likewise at any cost, without
taking into account the possible health conse-quences. I had more than enough occasions to
study this breed o individual over the course o 
the 26 years I devoted to work in GSNIIOKhT.
Consequently I can state categorically that their
psychology is incapable o change. Indeed, how
could it change? I need cite only the ollowing
recent episodes. Large-scale testing o the new
agent A-230 was carried out at a test site near the
city o Nukus in Uzbekistan under dry summerconditions, when the winds blow sand and dustgreat distances—along with the chemical toxin
being tested. The most intensive phase o this
testing coincided with the period when the great-
est advances were being made in negotiations
between the USSR, the US, and other potential
signatories on the proposed convention banning
chemical weapons.A urther example: In northeast Kazakhstan,
construction o a huge production acility or
chemical weapons was started. At the same timeas “accelerated” perestroika was underway in the
country, a new binary weapon based on agent
A-232 makes this entirely possible. For a ull year,as part o an exhibit publicizing achievements inindustrial conversion right across rom the oce
o the GSNIIOKhT director, even the chemical
ormula o an agricultural compound was on
display, one that is produced rom the same in-termediary substance that is the basis or agentA-232.No normal person can remain indierent to
such hypocrisy, which is related to the pathologi-
cal nature o the thinking o Russia’s top mili-
tary leaders. At that time I really believed that
a change in the country’s government would
help overcome the power o these people whose
thought processes are so distorted. For this rea-son, I acted as one o the ounders o the Demo-
cratic Russia movement at my institute, and par-
ticipated actively in demonstrations supportingBoris Yel’tsin. Finally, in May 1990, I was one o the rst members o the institute to resign rom
the CPSU. I made my rst attempt to draw publicattention to the situation in the military chemical
complex by publishing an article titled “Inver-
sion” in the newspaper Kuranty (October 10,1991).
Unortunately, this article attracted virtually no
attention. However, the individuals to whom I
reerred in the article did respond to the best o 
their abilities — on January 6, 1992, I was red
rom the institute. Only a technicality spared me
rom immediate arrest: In November 19889 the
USSR Committee or Constitutional Supervision
declared all normative acts having the orce o 
legislation to be invalid unless they were pub-lished within our months. In accordance with
this, the unpublished decree on state secrets, the
lists o classied material, and other ordinancesturned out to lack any legal basis. However, the
omission was soon remedied by the illegal presi-
dential ukaz No. 20 o January 14, 1992, accord-
ing to which all the invalidated ordinances were
declared to be valid.Ater I published a urther article titled “Poi-
sonous Policies” in Moskovskie novosti (Septem-
ber 16, 1992) and an interview appeared which I
had given to the Baltimore Sun, I was arrested
by the KGB (now operating under yet another
new label — MBR) and jailed in Leortovo Prison.
However, thanks to broad support rom demo-
cratic public opinion I was released ater 11 days,
although the investigation was to go on much
longer. During the time I was in prison, indeedeven or a while ater I had been released, I was
deprived o access to my deense counsel, and
then there was urther delay beore I was given
the opportunity to see the text o the decree and
the ordinances on the basis o which the inves-
tigation was being conducted. Despite the obvi-ous absurdity o my “case,” ultimately a corpusdelicti was abricated, conrmed in record time
by the General Procuracy, and then delivered to
a closed court.The le on my “case” shows who instigated
my arrest: Viktor Petrunin, director o GSNI-IOKhT; Petrunin’s deputy, KGB Colonel Alek-sandr Martynov; and the so-called technicalcommission, among whose members are Yuri
Skripkin, Boris Kuznet and Yuri Baranov. The last
three were all members o the Russian delega-
tion in the Geneva negotiations. Deputy Director
Baranov has requently been a welcome guest
in the West. One cannot ail to be impressed bythe intellectual breadth o some o our ocials
who participate in “honest” negotiations on an
international convention and then throw an op-ponent in prison when he exposes their dishon-
est behavior...I should mention that during the
course o the negotiations their “work” in act
was directed by the top leadership o the military-
chemical complex.The existence o major loopholes in the con-
vention that was signed constitutes a great collec-
tive achievement on the part o the Russian del-
egation. Thus the convention does not prohibit oreven control the production o such toxic agents
as A-230 and A-232, as well as their precursors,
nor does it ban binary chemical weapons based
on agents A-232 and 33, or their components. The
same considerations that led to these omissionsin the convention are also refected in Presiden-tial Directive No. 508-RP o September 16, 1992
(which prohibits the export rom Russia o toxic
chemicals or products rom which they can be
manuactured). The gentlemen who served on
the Russian delegation in Geneva helped ensurethat this presidential directive similarly omitted
rom the ban any o the chemicals listed above.Consequently, they all can be reely exported.It would be very optimistic to hope that the
results o this conspiracy against the intended
aims o the convention as a potential means o 
genuinely ending or all time the existence o 
chemical weapons. However, beore ratication
the deciencies in the convention that precludeit rom being eective should rst be corrected.
There is ar too much at stake to do otherwise —
indeed nothing less than our common security.
Unortunately, the situation is no better withregard to the destruction o chemical weaponry.What guarantee do we have that the persons whowere responsible or the inhumane methods withwhich the chemical arms race was waged are go-ing to be concerned about sae procedures or theliquidation o these weapons? Even i there were
any such concern on their part, would they be
capable o developing appropriate methods? Notlong ago the inhabitants o the city o Chapaevsk
prevented the commissioning o a dangerousplant or the destruction o chemical weapons.
As a result, they not only saved themselves, along
with all o us, but they also saved GSNIIOKhT
(which designed the plant) and the Russian topbrass rom an appalling disaster. The initial de-
sign and the technology adopted were known to
be deective—indeed, the decision to build the
plant can only be described as criminal—yet theocials responsible were ully prepared to startoperating the acility. I write as one who partici-

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