31 March 2018

The New York Times: “The Nerve Agent Too Deadly to Use, until Someone Did”

For nearly three decades, since a Soviet whistle-blower told the world of its existence, the nerve agent Novichok has scared American weapons experts. The Pentagon sent teams to destroy abandoned laboratories that once produced the chemical, believed to be orders of magnitude more lethal than sarin or VX.

There was no sign of it ever being used. Until last week.

Now, Britons are taking in the disquieting information that a Novichok nerve agent, a weapon invented for use against NATO troops, was released in the quiet town of Salisbury, its target a former Russian spy named Sergei V. Skripal. Mr. Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, collapsed onto a bench in a catatonic state on March 4, and remain hospitalized, in critical condition.

Ellen Barry & Ceylan Yeginsu

From a tech scandal to a political scandal – not that they are completely unrelated. Tensions between the West and Russia are on the rise, and this latest attack has prompted a more determined reaction, with Great Britain, and later 20 additional countries, expulsing Russian diplomats from their embassies. It’s probably too early to call this a new Cold War, but international politics will certainly be increasingly volatile in coming months and years.

Strike Back Retribution

Aside from its general significance, this piece of news caught my attention because I recognized the name of the suspected nerve agent used in the attack. I recently finished watching the sixth season of the action TV series Strike Back, which used Novichok as one of the plot points. Uncanny coincidence; makes you wonder how much of the action in the series is based on real events.

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