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One of the Soviet scientists who developed ‘Novichok’ says there are dozens of people in Russia who still know how to make it

The newsletter The Bell published an interview on March 20 with Vladimir Uglev, one of the Soviet scientists at the state chemical research institute known as “GosNIIOKhT,” who helped developed “Novichok” — the nerve agent reportedly used to poison ex-spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in England, earlier this month. Here are the biggest revelations from the interview:

  • There are four compounds that combine to form what’s called “Novichok”: A-1972, B-1976, C-1976, and D-1980 (each named after the years they were created).
  • The substance was developed on orders from the Soviet Defense Ministry to serve as the USSR’s response to VX. Scientists worked on the poison from 1972 to 1988.
  • There is no antidote to B-1976, C-1976, or D-1980. If Skripal and his daughter were exposed to a near-lethal dose of any one of these substances, then they will die as soon as they’re disconnected from life support.
  • Novichok’s formula is still known to several dozen people in Russia today.
  • “Binary weapons,” where two harmless compounds are combined to force a supposedly lethal nerve agent, do not exist, according to Uglev.

Earlier on March 20, the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti published an interview with another scientist at GosNIIOKhT, Leonid Rink, who denies that Russia could be involved in the poisoning of the Skripals.

Photo on the front page: Pixabay