Talk:Novichok agent

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Chemistry (Rated C-class, Low-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Chemistry, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of chemistry on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Low  This article has been rated as Low-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Military history (Rated Start-Class)
MILHIST This article is within the scope of the Military history WikiProject. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the project and see a list of open tasks. To use this banner, please see the full instructions.
Start This article has been rated as Start-Class on the quality assessment scale.


"Initially designated K-84 and later renamed A-230." incomplete sentence. Does this refer to a specific Novichok agent, or all of them? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:52, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

This article is a bunch of bunk based on a single web page.

It is crap - I'm going to re write it later. I am a US Amy Chemical Officer with a degree in CBRNE studies. Everything EVERYTHING in this article is WRONG. For example, Novichock weapons aren't a gas at all (except for the vapors of binary VX maybe) These compounds are of high military importance, and the quality of this article needs to relfect that. How do I get started editing? The first thing I need to change is the header, and I can't do that.

  • Your help would be very welcome. All you need to do to change the page is click on "edit this page" on the article page and make whichever edits you feel are necessary. I added some additional information to your own talk pag ethat you might find handy. Happy editing! – ClockworkSoul 19:35, 10 January 2006 (UTC)
  • All I have about the Novichoks are two very uncertain formulas of two compounds that some sources claimed to be the Novichok agents so, here they go (SMILES):



Hope it helps, these were hard to find Best regards, onagrus (onagrus =AT=

Careful. Wikipedia IMHO is supposed to be open literature; so don't get too close to things you're not supposed to talk about.Lost Boy 07:34, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

Granted chap, be aware though that the CWC is very specific in insisting on the co-operation of all countries and authorities to allow defence against agents. Discussion of defence not only should not be restricted but keeping such information secret could be viewed as a breach of the convention. It could even be construed that reticence by countries to reveal what they know of new agents is due to a number of factors from not knowing enough themselves, through to having no known detection or treatment.

Editing the "effects" section to include 2-pam chloride side of a NAAK. It might be a good idea to mention the CANA if we are going to expand this section into a "Treatment" type article. "NBCD Chief - You think your people are crazy?" 23:52, 13 July 2006 (UTC)


This page is all speculation or copying facts from a paranoid, unreliable source. Maybe this series of agents is fiction, maybe not, but there are NOT enough hard facts to support anything resembling an encyclopedic entry. Thoughts? Alvis 05:37, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

I agree with the quality of entries. However, be assured, it's not so much a fiction. Lost Boy 11:10, 9 January 2007 (UTC)

There is a complete BOOK on the research process undertaken by the Russians. The fact that the CAS numbers have also been printed, if you have nothing useful to say - go read them. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:12, 1 July 2016 (UTC)


Articles which are submitted need to be substantiated. A russian newspaper isn't really reliable. This should be listed as being more of a rumor than fact, the Russians are notorious for making bullshit claims about their weapons systems , even claiming to have developed a gravity beam (janes) doomsday devices and gps jammers which were taken out by GPS guided JADAMS. By the way the US army atropline injector has 2 pan chloride which actively degrades organophospates. Atrophine does block the acetylcholnie receptor so the claim that atrophine would be ineffective just russian propoganda. In all speculative articles it should be noted that the strenght and capabilities of Russian weapons systems are more important to the internal stability of Russia, because the strenght of the Russian armed forces are directly part of Russian Nationalism. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Androm (talkcontribs) 01:40, 25 April 2007 (UTC).

The existence of Novichok agents has been openly admitted by Russian state authorities when they brought a criminal treason case against Mirzoyanov. According to expert witness testimonies of state prosecution, the agents did exist and therefore the disclosure by Mirzoyanov represents high treason. Mirzoyanov made his disclosure out of environmental concerns. He was a head of a counter-intelligence department and did measurements outside the CW facilities to make sure that foreign spies can not detect any traces of the production. To his horror, he found enormous amounts of CW that represented danger for people who lived there. The books by Birshein and Albats (reliable secondary sources) claim this to be a binary weapon. See this source: "the talk [by Mirzayanov] about binary weapons was no more than a verbal construct, an argument ex adverso, and only the MCC could corroborate or refute this natural assumption. By entangling V. S. Mirzayanov in investigation, the MCC [Russian Military Chemical Complex] confirmed the stated hypothesis, advancing it to the ranks of proven facts." [1] Biophys 04:12, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

Androm, 2-PAM, also referred to as "pralidoxime," doesn't "degrade organophosphates," it degrades the function of some organophosphates by reactivating acetylcholinesterase. It doesn't work well for poisoning with soman and is reported by Miryazanov and in the literature of chemical weapons not to work well with the Novichok agents such as A-232 selected for weaponization by Russia. This, and not any alleged ineffectiveness of atropine, is the foundation for reports that Novichok can't be treated effectively by existing Western nerve agent antidotes, as first-line treatment for organophosphate poisoning involves both atropine and pralidoxime. loupgarous (talk) 19:26, 13 April 2016 (UTC)


Granted, this article needs more cleanup with nearly every entry. There's quite some fiction in it. However, the issue is quite hush-hush, so I don't expect fiction to be replaced by hard facts. This is BTW the reason why I voted for deletion; if you can't produce a substantiated article, better don't produce anything rather than a collection of fictous facts. Lost Boy 07:23, 7 August 2007 (UTC)

There are a lot of mistakes, but it can all be clarified if you take the time to read Vil Mirzayanov's new book "State Secrets: An Insider's Chronicle of the Russian Chemical Weapons Program" Published December 2008 by Outskirts Press. A lot of details about the Novichok program and some formulas are presented. Enjoy before they black out sections of this book! Periwinkle RTH (talk) 03:09, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

You can decide for yourself what can and cannot be substantiated. There is of course the circular argument used by Pickering - If Vil Mirzayanov lied, then why was he arrested? - Anyway, I will work on a short biography. I think this needs to be done, because people are beginning to read "State Secrets" now. Probably I am the only one who is able to do that properly at this point. (Gale Mirzayanov - wife)

"Effects" Section[edit]

Since there were no references in the section "Effects," I undertook to provide them. I discovered that this section omitted two of the most contentious alleged features of the Novichok agents said to be selected for deployment - their greater toxicity than anything developed by NATO (ten times more toxic than the US/British nerve agent VX) and the ineffectiveness of the cholinesterase "reactivator" pralidoxime presently included in US/NATO "buddy care kits" and cited as the first-line treatment (along with atropine and diazepam) for nerve agent poisoning.

So I added a short section on the standard treatment of nerve agent poisoning based on the FDA-approved package insert sheet for the "Duodose" nerve agent antidote kit to give the reader a more complete picture of what this treatment usually involves. I included a short statement paraphrased from a textbook on chemical weapons describing the greater toxicity of Novichok than the most effective Western nerve agent and the ineffectiveness of the standard cholinesterase reactivator, pralidoxime, in treating poisoning by Novichok agents.

Hopefully, this short addition to the "Effects" section removes the deficiency noted in the tag at the beginning of the article as far as that section's concerned. loupgarous (talk) 19:12, 13 April 2016 (UTC)

Chemical Formulas, Copyright and WP:NOTJOURNAL[edit]

I recently deleted two graphic figures depicting many different chemical structures purportedly of the Novichok agents. My reasons for doing so are:

  • wikipedia's not a scientific journal WP:NOTJOURNAL, so this specialized information falls outside the ambit of an encyclopedic article, which this is;
  • the copyright status of those graphics is not clear. Unless the graphics can be shown to be in the public domain, they don't belong in an wikipedia article.

This isn't the first time I've deleted those graphics, together with CAS numbers and ordering information (names of vendors and catalog numbers) for some of them and their purported binary components. I did so after discussing the matter with one of the project's attorneys, there being no rationale for censorship of the information, but a very good case under WP:NOTJOURNAL.

In short, we're not here to distribute purported chemical formulae of purported nerve agents. By comparison, our articles on, say, EA-3148 contain information and figures placed in the public domain by the US Army's Edgewood Arsenal and other authorities on nerve agents. There's no controversy as to where those formulae came from, their authenticity or the public domain status of figures in government publications.

Another editor placed the graphics back in this article with the edit summary "restored encylopedic and properly referenced content per WP:NOTCENSORED - this kind of knowledge is more dangerous when hidden!".

I submit this isn't a question of hiding the information, but the appropriate forum for the information. Readers interested in learning about these formulae in a more appropriate context than an encyclopedia article may do so in the copyrighted articles they're reproduced from, as given in the article's reference list.

The re-deletion of those figures is part of the requested general cleanup to bring it into conformity with our policies. loupgarous (talk) 21:02, 28 December 2016 (UTC)

I'm not sure I understand your rationale for this deletion, this information is hardly specialised - practically every single other article about chemical compounds has structure diagrams for them, including all the other CW agent pages, so it seems odd and inconsistent that this would be deemed "specialised information" per WP:NOTJOURNAL. Also there is nothing unclear about the copyright status of these images, there is longstanding consensus here that the chemical structures themselves are not copyrighted, only the depiction of them, and once the structures have been manually redrawn and released as free use, there is no copyright issue. The images are still on Wikimedia Commons and are still on the foreign language pages of this article, and no one else has ever suggested a copyright issue. Those chemical structures are largely reproduced from D Hank Ellison's "Handbook of Chemical and Biological Warfare Agents" or from Mirzayanov's autobiography, but they are not copies of the images in those books, but rather have been manually redrawn, in quite a different orientation etc. I agree there are some issues about the reliability of this information as it seems strange that the families of compounds depicted by Ellison and Mirzayanov have no overlap between them, perhaps all these structures are misinformation and the true Novichok agents are something else entirely. But so far as Wikipedia standards go, both those sources are WP:RS and there seems nothing inappropriate or unencyclopedic about including examples of what the structures are claimed to be. This does seem to be primarily an issue about censorship, the edit summary when these images were first deleted says "deleted specifc identity of the binary reagents required to make Novichok 5 and Novichok 7 in compliance with 18 U.S. Code § 842 - "Unlawful acts" subsection (p) (2)Prohibition" which seems pretty unambiguously an effort at censorship rather than anything else. Now maybe this is an example where the information is so dangerous that it should be censored from Wikipedia, you say you have discussed this with one of Wikipedia's attorneys and if they say it can't stay then I understand that. But I struggle to see what is so dangerous about the structures themselves, the precursors for organophosphate compounds like these are extremely difficult to obtain these days, and any wannabe jihadist trying to collect them would likely only draw attention to themselves from the authorities. I agree there is no need to list all the CAS numbers, synthetic routes or supposed binary reagents for these compounds, as this is too specialized for a general encyclopedia article about this class of compounds, but I notice you also deleted pretty much all the references, and that certainly doesn't seem consistent with policy like WP:PRESERVE. Finally though, I don't really understand what you hope to achieve by deleting the images from this Wikipedia page, anyone who does a Google image search for the images will find them right away, and also find structures for things like the carbamate nerve agents, which are probably more dangerous due to the precursors being less restricted. Thats really what I meant by saying this knowledge is more dangerous when hidden, most casual readers who come to this page will expect to see a few example chemical structures, and if they don't find it here they will likely look elsewhere anyway. Meodipt (talk) 19:40, 16 February 2017 (UTC)
I discussed this with someone else involved in legal support for the project. He concurs with you that WP:NOTCENSORED is a hard and fast rule, but concurs with me that so is WP:NOTJOURNAL. I appreciate your mentioning that two sources, one of which (Ellison) is probably WP:RS, the other of which was compiled by someone with less specialized technical background, list two mutually exclusive lists of structures for these agents. In that sense, someone's got to be wrong on the facts - we avoid the issue entirely by not going into a level of detail at which we can't be sure which of our sources is reliable.
When I deleted references, they were for text I'd deleted in good faith, under the rationale given in my edit summary. There was no intent on my part to violate project policy, merely to delete text that goes into more detail than, say, our article on soman, which in its notability (as well as its physiological effects) is pretty close to the Novichok agents (actually, the structures I deleted weren't as involved as the diagram for the synthesis of soman, I deleted those structures in this article because I believed they were copyright of Miryazanov. My apologies for the error, I ought to have checked). But, again, the level of detail on syntheses and structure on our articles on the G- and V-agents and other chemical weapons is almost all courtesy of public domain government publications, such as Edgewood Arsenal reports and technical summaries. The provenance of Miryazanov's data is unclear, even if we trust him more than the actual developers and custodians of the Novichok agents themselves, ultimately the Russian Ministry of Defense (who deny their existence, officially, or claim they're pesticides - and I'm sure they consider enemy soldiers to be pests).
I'll try to find Ellison's book here and review what it says about the Novichok agents. We may be able to reach consensus on this point, and I'd be more than happy to do so. But if this involves publishing any information useful in preparing any Novichok agent, legally, I don't have alternatives. I have to obey my country's laws, and the project confers no immunity to US citizens in that regard. But thanks for discussing this with me. I hope we can find a consensus here. loupgarous (talk) 23:55, 22 February 2017 (UTC)
I'm glad you are keen to find consensus here, and again I would reiterate that I agree there is no need to include such unnecessarily detailed information as the synthetic routes or supposed binary reagents for these compounds, this is a dangerous topic after all. But again, it is hard for me to see what is especially different about these Novichok agents, when there is already so much information on Wikipedia about all the other nerve agents. All terrorist groups or rogue states who have tried to acquire nerve agents have started with either tabun or sarin (the easiest to make) or VX (the most notorious), and the synthetic routes for those compounds are all on their respective pages already. I appreciate you are legally bound not to facilitate publication of information useful in preparing toxic chemical agents, but again Wikipedia never permits the publication of new information per WP:OR, all the information on here is reproduced from sources which are already publicly accessible, quite easily in most cases. So trying to suppress this seems to me rather like bolting the gate many years after the horse had fled. Regarding the reliability of sources, according to their respective bios, Ellison is a trained synthetic chemist who worked for the US Army as a chemical officer, and Mirzayanov is a trained analytical chemist who worked for the Russian Army as a site inspector monitoring CW production facilities. So by WP standards at least, their expertise in this field is broadly equivalent. Just to complicate things further, after going back through this in more detail I realised some of the compounds in the top picture are not from Ellison's book after all but from Steven L. Hoenig's "Compendium of Chemical Warfare Agents", which unfortunately I do not have a copy of, at the time I drew the picture it was freely viewable on Google Books but has since been removed after that copyright dispute they had. Ellison provides references in his book, but from a quick look it appears these are the exact same old Russian journal article references that you deleted from the page. Mirzayanov does not provide references, but he does say that many of the less potent derivatives were reported in the open literature as new organophosphate insecticides, so that the secret chemical weapons program could be disguised as legitimate pesticide research. From this he would seem to be implying that the compounds claimed as Novichok agents by Hoenig and Ellison were all deliberate misinformation anyway, and if you look up Mirzayanov's claimed structures, they do not have CAS numbers or literature references, which imo makes them more plausible as military secrets. That said, there are various reasons why Mirzayanov might not have wanted to reveal the true structures either, and little reason for him to be honest about it in his autobiography, after all its not like the Russian military would have sought to correct him. So that does make me suspect that his structures could also be disinformation, and the true structures might be different again. But speculation aside, these are all valid WP:RS, and it is important to note that Wikipedia strives to accurately reproduce what is written in reliable sources, not to determine the objective truth. So in a way it is not really relevant whether these structures are accurate or not, we are just giving them as examples of what reliable sources claim the structures of Novichok compounds to be. Personally I figured that listing a wide range of diverse structures might serve to obfuscate the identity of the really toxic ones, if indeed they are in there, but we can trim the list down if you feel that is more appropriate. Meodipt (talk) 20:29, 24 February 2017 (UTC)
Hmm found a copy of Hoenig's book online, and those structures on the bottom row of the first picture aren't from there either, not sure where those were from then. The rest of those ones are from Ellison, and he lists several other similar structures too. Meodipt (talk) 01:40, 25 February 2017 (UTC)
I see your point about WP:TRUTH. As long as we're doing due diligence to show what the consensus is in reliable sources on the structures of the notable Novichok agents, I think we're good. loupgarous (talk) 21:31, 4 March 2017 (UTC)
In terms of consensus among the reliable sources, there is no doubt the structures listed by Ellison are the more widely accepted, they are mentioned in several reviews, have primary literature references reporting their discovery etc. On the other hand, I don't think we can dismiss Mirzayanov's claimed structures entirely, as after all his disclosures are the origin of all public knowledge about this series of compounds. Prior to his revealing them, the only sources that mentioned the Novichok series were classified intelligence briefs which obviously can't be cited as sources on WP. We may have to give less weight to Mirzayanov's claimed structures as they are only supported by a single source which can't be corroborated, but on the other hand his claim that the compounds which were reported in the open literature were less-potent members of the series that were deliberately publicised to draw attention away from the real highly active compounds, does seem plausible. It is quite an unusual situation to have a RS which explicitly claims that the consensus of other RS's is incorrect and has been deliberately mislead, and I think the best approach is to give examples from both sets of sources, but not specify which compounds are supposedly the highly active ones, as I don't think any of the sources can really be trusted on this (even Ellison concedes that there is insufficient information available to really be sure). As for notability, the most notable compounds would generally be the most active ones, but if we can't be certain which ones those are, then imo it seems appropriate to show a range of structures that illustrate the kind of compounds that were looked at, without getting too specific. Also even some less active structures may be chemically interesting, it seems unlikely that the selenium analogues of sarin and soman that Mirzayanov claims were researched would be highly potent (and he does not claim that they are), but I can't say I've ever come across a phosphorus=selenium double bond anywhere else, and if the Russians did indeed synthesise such compounds that is noteworthy regardless of how potent they are. Perhaps it would be best to have a single image showing a trimmed set of structures derived from both sources, mostly from Ellison but with a couple from Mirzayanov, and just put Ellison's and Mirzayanov's books as references. As you say, if people really want the references for the original Russian primary sources then they are listed in Ellison's book anyway, and perhaps including those primary sources would be unduly detailed for this page, we are supposed to favour secondary and tertiary sources after all. Meodipt (talk) 03:34, 5 March 2017 (UTC)