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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Scientist Says Russia 'Dishonest' in Treaty

As Andrei Kozyrev signs an historic international chemical weapons ban treaty in Paris on Tuesday, one scientist maintains that Russia's generals have lied about the makeup of their weapons stockpile, making the Foreign Minister's signature "dishonest".


Vil Mirzayanov is already under investigation for revealing in September that a new binary chemical weapon was tested even after President Boris Yeltsin agreed to abide by an international regime outlawing such tests.


The allegation touched a nerve in high circles, and Mirzayanov was arrested by the Security Ministry and held in prison for two months. His co-author, Lev Fyodorov, was arrested in October but released after a day. The investigation into Mirzayanov continues.


Now the 57-year-old scientist has written an open letter to Yeltsin repeating his allegations, which he believes are still valid and should worry both Yeltsin and the leaders of some 20 other countries that will sign the chemical weapons ban treaty in Paris.


Tests on the new Russian weapon ended in the first quarter of 1992, according to Mirzayanov. But he alleges that the generals - and therefore Russia - have still not come clean on the kinds of weapons they have produced. Only when they do can all of Russia's stockpiles be included in the chemical weapons ban treaty for destruction.


As a result, Mirzayanov said in an interview, it would be "dishonest" for the Russian side to sign the treaty now.


According to Mirzayanov, the convention names a series of compounds to be banned, including a compound called VX which is officially supposed to be produced at Novocheboksary on the Volga river.


But the scientist alleges that the Novocheboksary plant does not in fact possess VX but another, secret variety of the V class of gases that uses similar ingredients but is not on the treaty's list of banned substances.


A Western diplomat based in Moscow said that Mirzayanov's allegations were taken seriously and were investigated by embassy staff, but that the subject was too sensitive for the findings to be made public.


"If we are forbidding the development, manufacturing, and sale of chemical weapons we should do it honestly", Mirzayanov said, adding that he knew the name of the new compound, but could not reveal it as this was a state secret.


According to Mirzayanov's scenario, when American inspectors come to verify that Russia is upholding its part of the convention, they will be looking for the 40, 000 tons of VX that Russia said it had. They will not find any, he said, because it was never there.


Meanwhile their instruments - designed to detect VX - may be unable to register the 40, 000 tons of new V gas that he says do exist.


The scientist, a former researcher at the top-secret State Organic Chemistry and Technology Research Institute, said he wrote to Yeltsin because there had been no response - other than from the Security Ministry - to the original expose he published in the weekly Moscow News in September.


"I decided that what I wrote did not affect anybody", Mirzayanov said. "Nothing has been done about it. Russia is developing a new binary chemical weapon, the components of which are not included in the Geneva convention. But no one has called me in to ask anything".


The letter to Yeltsin also aims to challenge the process under which Mirzayanov is being investigated. He told Yeltsin that he was being charged under ministry regulations of dubious legality, rather than under the law.