Posted on March 13, 2018
In 1999, defence officials from the US travelled to Uzbekistan to help dismantle and decontaminate one of the former Soviet Union’s largest chemical weapons testing facilities. According to a senior defector, the Soviets used the plant to produce and test small batches of Novichok. These nerve agents were designed to escape detection by international inspectors. One of the group of chemicals known as Novichok – A-230 – is reportedly 5-8 times more toxic than VX nerve agent. “This is a more dangerous and sophisticated agent than sarin or VX and is harder to identify,” says Professor Gary Stephens, a pharmacology expert at the University of Reading. VX agent was the chemical used to kill the half-brother of Kim Jong-un last year, according to the US. A number of variants of A-230 have been manufactured, and one of them was reportedly approved for use by the Russian military as a chemical weapon.