Disinfo: Russia destroyed its Novichok stockpile, but US continues to produce it

Summary

Russia has destroyed its entire stockpile of Novichok in line with OPCW protocols.

However, the US continues to research a wide array of chemical warfare agents, as it has been doing since the 1980s.

For political reasons, these toxic compounds are classified in the West as “novichok” which is a Russian word. The US authorities have registered over 140 patents related to the use of this type of chemical weapons.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative on Novichok.

In September 2017, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed the full destruction of the 39,967 tonnes of chemical weapons possessed by Russia, but Novichoks were never declared to the OPCW and were not included in the Chemical Weapons Convention until 2019.

After the poisoning of Sergey and Yuliya Skripal with Novichok in Salisbury in 2018, Dr. Vil Mirzayanov, who riginally helped to develop the nerve agent said, that “many countries could have had test samples, but production was only refined in the U.S.S.R. and Russia” and that Russia had to be behind the attempt on the Skripals because it “is the country that invented it, has the experience, turned it into a weapon... has fully mastered the cycle.”

Most of what we understand of Novichok agents comes from testimony and memoirs of Dr Vil S. Mirzayanov, the Chief of the Department of Counteraction against Foreign Technical Intelligence at the Russian State Union Scientific Research Institute for Organic Chemistry and Technology (GosNIIOKhT) who authored a 1994 report with the Stimson Center describing the state of chemical weapon disarmament in Russia, revealing Novichok's existence. Mirzayanov said that only Russia would have the capability to deploy the agent. Later on, in 1998, the US National Bureau of Standards, now the National Institute of Standards and Technology, added Novichok to its spectral data which has 300,000 compounds and is regularly updated.

A year-long investigation by Bellingcat has discovered evidence that Russia continued its Novichok development programme long beyond the officially announced closure date.

The claim concerning the 140 patents of toxic compounds registered in the US is based on an old lie by Russia's OPCW envoy Aleksandr Shulgin in April 2018, shortly after the attempted murder of Sergey Skripal in Salisbury. An investigation by Polygraph.info found that none of the US-registered patents mentioning the term "Novichok" actually concerned the use or production of the compound, but rather focused on "detoxification," "detection," "prevention," and treatment of nerve poisoning.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 222
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 27/11/2020
  • Language/target audience: English
  • Country: Russia, US
  • Keywords: novichok, OPCW, Chemical weapons/attack, Anti-Russian, Russophobia

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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