A-234 (nerve agent)
3D model (JSmol)
|Molar mass||224.216 g·mol−1|
A-234 is an organophosphate nerve agent. It was developed in the Soviet Union under the Foliant program, and is one of the group of compounds referred to as Novichok agents, that were revealed by Vil Mirzayanov. In March 2018, the Russian ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, claimed to have been informed by British authorities that A-234 had been identified as the agent used in the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Vladimir Uglev, one of the inventors of the Novichok series of compounds, said he was "99 per cent sure that it was A-234" in relation to the 2018 Amesbury poisonings, noting its unusually high persistence in the environment.
According to a classified (secret) report by the US Army National Ground Intelligence Center in Military Intelligence Digest dated 24 January 1997, the agent designated as A-232 and its ethyl analog A-234, developed under the Foliant program, "are as toxic as VX, as resistant to treatment as soman, and more difficult to detect and easier to manufacture than VX". Of the agent's binary versions, one is reportedly formed by acetonitrile and an organic phosphate "that can be disguised as a pesticide precursor," while for another, Bill Gertz wrote, "soldiers need only add alcohol".
([(2-chloro-1-methylpropoxy)fluorohydroxyphosphinyl]oxy)carbonimidic chloride fluoride
3D model (JSmol)
|Molar mass||269.99 g·mol−1|
An alternative structure for A-234 and the related Novichok agents has been put forward by Western chemical weapons experts such as Steven Hoenig and D. Hank Ellison. These structures are supported by Soviet literature of the time and were tested as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, however Mirzayanov claims that a number of weaker agents developed as part of the Foliant program were published in the open literature as organophosphate pesticides, in order to disguise the secret nerve agent program as legitimate pesticide research.
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- Russian spy: What are Novichok agents and what do they do? BBC News, 19 March 2018
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- Bill Gertz. Russia dodges chemical arms ban. The Washington Times, 4 February 1997
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- Ellison, D. Hank (2008), Handbook of Chemical and Biological Warfare Agents (Second ed.), CRC Press, ISBN 978-0-849-31434-6
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