Article on Novichok agents in the monthly magazine of the German Chemical Society

In June 2020 the addition of a number of new chemicals and family of chemicals to Schedule 1 of the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force. According to Member States these additions include agents from the so-called “Novichok” group of agents.

Written totally unrelated to the recent poisoning of Mr Navalny by a Novichok agent, but certainly well timed, my article “Ein unbekanntes Nervengift” covering these nerve agents appeared in the September issue of “Nachrichten aus der Chemie”, the monthly publication of the German Chemical Society. Due to the Navalny case and general interest the GDCh made the article open-access so please follow the above link (Article in German).

Teaching at AKNZ

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.

Working group on disarmament and non-proliferation of chemical and biological weapons

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.