New paper from the Australian Defense Lab DSTG describing the analysis of three different stock of the nerve agent VX by NMR, LC-HRMS/MS, GC-MS(EI and GC-MS(CI) and identification of impurities that serve as chemical attribution signatures (CAS). The CAS profile contained 44 compounds of which 37 were identified. Several of these compounds could be traced back to the precursor chemicals used for synthesis.
Chemical & Engineering News published an article on the outcomes of the first report of the Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) regarding chemical weapons attacks in Syria. I was asked to comment on how chemistry can point to perpetrators of such attacks. Read the article here.
New paper from the University of Konstanz in Germany on the role of NAD+ in Sulfur Mustard Toxicity. As the molecular mechanisms of sulfur mustard toxicity are still not fully understood the paper reviews the role of Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) in its oxidized form (NAD+) showing the current state of research.
This week I was at the German Academy for crisis management, emergency planning and civil protection (AKNZ) where I had the pleasure to talk about specific risks of novel 4th generation nerve agents to first responders. The audience were CBRN instructors from the state firefighting academies with the idea to get this information through them to the first responders across the country. Local fire services – many of them voluntary – are likely to be the first on the scene of an incident. Protecting them and enabling them to respond is key to limit casualties and mitigate effects.
New paper from the Indian OPCW designated laboratory VERTOX. Straight forward analytical work but interesting because they show how to specifically generate partially hydrolyzed nitrogen mustards.
On 12 February I was able to attend the annual meeting of the working group on disarmament and non-proliferation of chemical and biological weapons (Arbeitskreis Abrüstung und Nichtverbreitung biologischer und chemischer Waffen). It’s a forum initiated by German academics active in the field and brings together experts from the chemical and biological sciences, policy makers, military and non-proliferation experts. This year the Heinrich Böll Stiftung hosted the event in their Berlin headquarters that brought together about 60 participants
Presentations and discussion centered around current issues related to the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions but for example also touched issues like the enhancement of laboratory capabilities in the bio field to support the UNSGM mechanism.
My main take away point (similar to meetings in earlier years) was the importance of such meetings that join academia, civil society, policy makers, non-proliferation and military experts around one table. In our special fields which are highly technical and require a sound scientific base but are also deeply influence by political considerations it remains a challenge to bring these worlds together. My gratitude goes to the organizers, especially Prof. Kathryn Nixdorf, Dr. Una Jakob and Dr. Mirko Himmel.
On pages 44-48 of the December 2019 issue of CBRNeWorld you will find a few lines from me on why listing new nerve agents in the schedules of the CWC is only a beginning. (John Hart“s piece on the BWC p49-50 is also worth reading)