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>LONDON (AP) -- The use of Russian-developed nerve agent Novichok to poison ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter makes it "highly likely" that Russia was involved, British Prime Minister Theresa May said Monday.
>Novichok refers to a class of nerve agents developed in the Soviet Union near the end of the Cold War. The agents were ostensibly created in an attempt to avoid the international chemical weapons treaty that had just been signed; any new substances wouldn't be subject to past treaties.
>Novichok behaves slightly differently than other nerve agents, with some reports that the class of substances is deadlier than similar chemicals like sarin or VX and harder to identify.
>"Novichok agents significantly extend the range of possibility for nerve agents," said Andrea Sella, a professor of inorganic chemistry at University College London. There are five known nerve agents, which are mostly colorless liquids that can kill within minutes, if ingested.
>"With Novichok, you have the potential for a slower-release agent, which gives you much more control," Sella said. "Using Novichok makes it pretty clear that it was likely Russia that was behind this."
>Gary Stephens, a pharmacology expert at the University of Reading, noted that the component ingredients of Novichok nerve agents aren't on the banned list.
>"It means the chemicals that are mixed to create it are much easier to deliver with no risk to the health of the courier," he said.
>Nerve agents are typically inhaled or absorbed through the skin. They work by blocking a key enzyme that controls communication between nerve cells and muscles - inhibiting the enzyme causes muscles and glands to be overstimulated. That results in symptoms including contracted pupils, vomiting, breathing difficulties and convulsing muscles.
>While the raw materials needed to make a nerve agent are cheap and relatively accessible, transforming them into a deadly weapon requires specialized expertise and the kind of safety precautions normally only found in government laboratories.
>But trained chemists with access to secure facilities would theoretically be able to produce nerve agents, which have been described by some scientists as the most deadly invention humans have ever made, after the atom bomb.
>"With these kinds of substances, they are just so dangerous that no fly-by-night terrorist group is going to cook this up," Sella said. "It really smells like a government outfit," he said, adding that nations other than Russia would also be capable of producing Novichok.
>Alastair Hay, a professor emeritus of environmental toxicology at the University of Leeds, said it was possible the Skripals' food was contaminated or the nerve agent was absorbed through the skin, which could take an hour or longer if the substance was administered using something similar to a nicotine patch.
>People attacked with Novichok can potentially be treated with compounds called oxines, but recovery would depend on how quickly doctors are able to pinpoint the right compound, according to Hay.
>Since nerve agents affect the respiratory center in the brain and reduces the amount of oxygen in the body, the primary worry for people exposed to nerve agents is brain damage, he said.
>"All of the evidence is that for people who are this severely poisoned, is that a full recovery is far from guaranteed and they may have residual problems as a result of damage to the brain," Hay said.
>Scientists will likely be analyzing any trace amounts left of the Novichok to determine which lab might have produced it.
>Experts said any remaining bits of the substances used to make the nerve agent or impurities left by the chemical reaction used in the manufacturing process could be revealing.
>"Those might give you a clue where it was made," Hay said. "Intelligence agencies and governments have a reasonable idea about the different processes that have been used and which countries use specific methods of manufacturing." Still, he said this wasn't an exact science and that police would have to gather evidence beyond the laboratory to narrow down where the nerve agent originated.
>Any samples of the Novichok left in the environment could also be useful as police construct a timeline of the attack - analyzing where the agent was left in the highest concentrations will help determine where Skripal, his daughter and the police officer who first responded were exposed.
>Hay said that among the crime's biggest mysteries is why the perpetrators even chose to use Novichok.
>"If you wanted to kill someone, there are much more effective ways to do this than to go to these lengths with something that's so identifiable," he said. "But maybe that's part of the message," he said. "Maybe this is just somebody saying, 'we don't care if you identify us as the attackers and we don't care if you know.'"
Not a coincidence, the guy was tried for high treason for trying to bring the dangerous conditions around the chemical plant where it was made to light.
>Mirzayanov was employed by the State Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology. He was then assigned to a secret military chemical weapons laboratory, GosNIIKhT ("Goodnight"), which was developing the Novichok agent programme of nerve agents. He was head of a counter-intelligence department that performed measurements outside the chemical weapons facilities to make sure that foreign spies could not detect any traces of production. To his horror, the levels of deadly substances were 80 times greater than the maximum safe concentration.
>Concerned with both working conditions, environmental contamination and the probable illegality of the programs, Mirzayanov and his colleague Lev Fedorov decided to reveal the extent of chemical weapons experimentation in Russia, which they concluded contravened the proposed 1990 Chemical Weapons Accord and the existing Wyoming Memorandum of Understanding. In 1992, they published an article of the USSR and Russia's development of extremely potent fourth-generation chemical weapons from the 1970s until the early 1990s, in Moskovskiye Novosti weekly, and for safety and assurity purposes in the Baltimore Sun through an associated article written by veteran correspondent Will Englund. The publication appeared just on the eve of Russia's signing of the 1990 Chemical Weapons Convention.
>Mirzayanov was immediately fired. He was then arrested on October 22, 1992, on charges of treason, brought by the Russian military industrial complex authorities - he was not allowed to know the exact charges, as they were also declared a state secret. Held in Lefortovo prison, during the resultant court case, the existence of Novichok agents was openly admitted by Russian authorities. According to expert witness testimonies prepared for the KGB by three scientists, Novichok and other related chemical agents had indeed been produced and therefore the disclosure by Mirzayanov represented high treason.
>However, the trial collapsed. Mirzayanov was released because "not one of the formulas or names of poisonous substances in the Moscow News article was new to the Soviet press, nor were locations ... of testing sites revealed." According to Yevgenia Albats, "the real state secret revealed by Fyodorov and Mirzayanov was that generals had lied — and were still lying — to both the international community and their fellow citizens."
>Mirzayanov was released, but keep under house arrest and observation. When allowed to do so by Russian authorities, he relocated to the United States where he presently resides, taking a position at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Foreign Minister of Ukraine declares ex-spy Skripal as an active russian spy.
"The latest developments related to the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the UK are of great concern. Given the data of the British special services and taking into account the fact that the answer of the Russian side is hypocritical and not credible, we are ready to support the opinion of the Prime Minister of Great Britain that this is most likely the work of the Kremlin, "Klimkin said.
According to him, this case "indicates a significant escalation of Russian aggression against one of the leading democracies of the West and Ukraine's closest ally."
He also assured that the government of Ukraine closely follows the situation and discusses it with top British officials.
"It seems that this is indeed the alarm bell that should wake the West, at least I really hope so. Now the West has to react in a way that would make Russia feel the consequences of its actions. One of the first goals should be the World Cup, which will be held next summer. Russia does not deserve to host such a prestigious tournament. Ideally, I would like Russia to be deprived of the right to hold this event, "the Ukrainian Foreign Minister does not hide his intentions.
If the boycott of the championship is impossible because of a lack of time, the minister continues, "all nations and freedom-loving people" must boycott the tournament.
"Holding it in Russia will not unite the peoples of the world, but will only enrich Russia and give it a powerful propaganda tool, which it simply does not deserve. The free world must take a very tough stance and act decisively in a way that Russia understands that no one will tolerate the criminal-terrorist methods that it uses. It is necessary to do this now, until it's too late, "Klimkin urges.
It is worth noting that it is much more appropriate to call Skripal not a Russian, but a British spy, because in Russia he spied in favor of the services of Great Britain.
US just backed the Brits, maybe Trump has a spine for once
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>>While the raw materials needed to make a nerve agent are cheap and relatively accessible, transforming them into a deadly weapon requires specialized expertise and the kind of safety precautions normally only found in government laboratories.
why do we have clandestine drug manufacturers making tons of money through black market labs?
we killed plenty of people related to wikileaks, and possibly assange
bottom line is the chemical agent is publicly known, one (or maybe even a couple) of the scientists that researched and developed them are now living in the US.
bottom line is these were first manufactured 25-45 years ago depending on which novichok agent your talking about and its ridiculous to think that no developed nation in the world could duplicate it in that time
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