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American VX History

24.07.2018 14:05

Andrew Beyzer

Edgewood Arsenal - one of the oldest test sites of chemical weapons in the United States is located at a distance of 25 kilometers from the city of Baltimore (Maryland).

At first in 1917 the Arsenal was created as a factory for the production of chemical warfare agents, in the post-war period the main activity of the laboratory was research work, in particular, with the seized on nazi Germany nerve gas sarin. And then in the late 40-ies in Edgewood was commissioned pilot plant for the production of this poison. Scientists were tasked to determine exactly how sarin effects on a person, as well as increase its damaging effect. Those very dangerous experiments needed a volunteer and the Edgewood test site became the first American facility where people were poison with chemical weapons.

Since then, no reliable information about the secret laboratory has appeared. Until 2015, there was an incident that made the American public talk about the test site of chemical weapons.

The matter is that specialists of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention have uncovered the uncontrolled storage of a significant number of causative agents of plague and Venezuelan horse encephalitis at the Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center of the US Department of Defense. It turned out that the employees of the Pentagon's top-secret laboratory, apparently, incorrectly marked potentially deadly bacteria, and also stored and transported them with violation of safety standards. Based on the verification materials, it was found that this was the result of years of ignoring the ineffectiveness of the technologies used to inactivate biomaterials. Observers also noted cases of loss and theft of pathogenic microorganisms, releases of bioagents out of the laboratory, as well as unintentional infection and animals death.

That situation could not but cause concern among local residents who sued for the army in order to eliminate the laboratory and compensate for the damage to the environment. In addition, an even greater danger is the unauthorized access to chemical and biological materials, as well as the possibility of capture of patagene organisms and substances by terrorists.

Against this background, the resonant "Skripal case" looks remarkable in which the main "accused" became a nerve agent "Novichok" by name. According to the British authorities now only Russia can produce that chemical weapon.

However, the recently revealed facts about the presence of "Novichok" in many NATO countries created an awkward situation for London. In addition to the official statement of Czech President Miloš Zeman on the work on production of that highly toxic substance in the country there was a large amount of information on the synthesis of poison in other countries.

For example, the former employee of the State Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology (GNIIOKhT), Vil Mirzoyanov, who was engaged in the development of that potent chemical, has been cooperating with American laboratories since the mid-1990s, including the Edgewood Center. Moreover, the "legacy" of the GNIIOKhT itself was thoroughly investigated by American specialists after the collapse of the USSR. Thus, Washington has long got not only the materials of research by Soviet scientists, but also uses knowledge of the participant in the development of the "Novichok."

The position that the West has taken in the "Skripal case" once again demonstrated the desire to make Russia "the enemy of progressive humanity No. 1". The poisoning of the former GRU officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter, as well as the subsequent incident with the British couple in Amesbury, joined series of alleged provocations by Moscow, to which a corresponding reaction should be given. However, neither the UK nor the US are accustomed to ignoring their own miscalculations in the system of chemical and biological safety, but only to clear themselves of accident or ... "the Kremlin's hand".