We Were Preparing for an All-Out Chemical War

Moscow OBSHCHAYA GAZETA No 4, 26 Jan 95 p 9
by Doctor of Chemical Sciences Lev Fedorov

Several days ago Colonel General Stanislav Petrov, chief of the RF [Russian Federation] radiation, chemical, and biological defense troops, made a statement via ITAR-TASS that there are no forces in Russia interested in the preservation of chemical weapons. In his opinion, the topic of "violating chemical disarmament treaties" is political. OBSHCHAYA GAZETA experts maintain the opposite.

Space "F"

When in December 1992 an American newspaper merely mentioned the existence of the "Foliant" program among our VPK's [military-industrial complex] "black programs," this caused considerable panic. Since KGB people at the time visited me, among others, and again brought up the "Foliant" [during interrogations] in Lefortovo, I also became curious. As a Russian Federation citizen. I think the time has come now to tell what I have been able to find out.

"Foliant" is only one of our programs of secret preparation for an all-out chemical-biological war. There were also others--and not only in chemical science. Those who earned their living by preparing for war with the aid of herbicides lived by the laws of the "Flora" program, set up by the 5 January 1973 decree of the CPSU Central Committee and the USSR Council of Ministers. Those who were preparing for an immunological war fed off the "Flute," "Fouette," and "Fagot" programs, and so on. Many more people "milked" the state through the "Flask," "Ferment," and "Factor" programs.

The beginnings of the secret "F" space go back more than a quarter-century. The Americans were unwitting culprits in causing it to emerge. It was at the end of the 1960's, before the wave of protests against the "U.S. chemical war in Vietnam," that our VPK conspirators figured out how lucrative it would be to scare the old men in the Politburo with an imminent imperialist secret chemical-biological attack on the Soviet Union. "Memoranda" flooded the Central Committee; from them numerous decrees were born (it appears that one of the first was the 17 August 1967 decree of the CPSU Central Committee and the USSR Council of Ministers). Thus came into existence a gold mine we still do not know much about--a host of programs, institutes, entire directions, and even agencies (recall the Main Administration of Microbiological Industry), whose ostensible purpose was to "counter," but in reality--to prepare for an attack.

We might want to find out what is the real business of the current Medstatistika NII [scientific research institute] and the Science Center for Molecular Diagnostics--in the past very secret institutes of the Third Main Administration under the USSR Ministry of Health. And how the interest in phosphorus and psychotropic chemical warfare developed in those years in two other "hygienic" institutes of the same agency--Volgograd and Leningrad. By the way, it would be useful to remember that this same Third Main Administration--by now a fairly well-known secret medical agency--had been tasked since 1967 with "technical substantiation" of all "big chemistry" construction projects, after which normal sanitary oversight of chemical warfare plants was suspended. It has not resumed to this day. We were preparing to attack, not defend ourselves. We were preparing for an all-out chemical war, a war in which all types of chemical weapons would be used. And in order to discourage the "adversary," entire chemical warfare cities were built within outwardly innocuous chemical plants. These days many have already heard about the so-called Production III at the Novocheboksary Khimprom plant (this is in Chuvashia). It was there that 15,200 tonnes of "our" V-gas--the most barbaric chemical weapon of the 20th century--were produced and poured into munitions. And it was there--the sanctum, so to say--that American inspectors were finally allowed to visit recently.

It is time, though, to start looking beyond--in the categories of the CIS. How things are, for instance, at Production VIII at the Pavlodar Khimprom, where the plan had been for several decades to produce munitions (rocket warheads, bombs, and artillery shells of all sorts, even munitions for blimp delivery), charged with V-gas and soman. Workers from the Novocheboksary and Volgograd Khimproms traveled to Pavlodar at the end of 1980's for trial start-ups.

We could also ask about the fate of Area 102 at the Kremniypolimer plant in Zaporozhye, which was being built under the aforementioned "Foliant" program for chemical weapons production. (The 8 June 1973 decree of the CPSU Central Committee and the USSR Council of Ministers.) And also the storage facilities being built nearby.

We, however, as citizens of Russia, should be more concerned about the so-called "gamma production" built in the 1980's at the Altaykhimprom plant in Slavgorod (Altay Kray). The part of the Volga bank where the Volgograd Khimprom poached for a half-century, strictly speaking, has been irreversibly ruined. The consequences of the production of sarin, soman, and V-gas never go away completely even in countries with a more caring attitude to nature and people.

Some may object that this is all old stuff. I wish it were. At the beginning of 1980's special storage facilities for technical documentation were built at industrial sites for "secret chemistry" in Volgograd, Novocheboksarsk, Zaporozhye, Pavlodar, Volsk, and a number of other cities. For the eventuality of war. And I have not heard of anybody conducting international inspections at these sites. Russia is not Iraq. If the generals decide that they need it, they will simply pull out the technical documentation and revive production of chemical weapons. Without asking the president. Let alone Mssrs. Rybkin and Shumeyko, who just cannot grasp why we need a law on criminal liability for reviving production and development of chemical weapons. (The first draft of the new RF Criminal Code envisages only liability for chemical weapons production. From which it follows that one may keep working on their development with impunity--contrary to the Paris Convention.)

Binary Weapons

Recently, after the final exchange of military-chemical secrets, the Americans accused the Russian authorities of insincerity. They told us about their supply of binary weapons, they say, while we do not want to tell them about ours, although we seem to have promised this in keeping with the 1989 memorandum. Our side's arguments are simple: The Americans had binary weapons production and we did not--so there is nothing to tell them about.

Those who wish to, may, of course, analyze the statement of E. Shevardnadze at the 44th Session of the UN General Assembly on 26 September 1989, where he apparently admitted said "production": "The Soviet Union is ready to go further than that together with the United States and, without waiting for the signing of the multilateral convention, undertake mutual obligations: to stop chemical weapons production as we have done (this includes binary weapons)."

It is easier, however, to draw logical conclusions from certain facts: Industrial production of sarin began in 1958-1959, and the Lenin Prize for it was awarded in 1960; industrial production of soman began in 1967, the Lenin Prize followed in 1972; industrial production of V-gas began in 1972, the Lenin Prize was issued in 1974.

On 4 April 1991 Pavlov "issued" the Lenin Prize in the class of binary chemical weapons to Comrades A. Gayev, A. Kisletsov, A. Kuntsevich, and V. Petrunin. The penultimate, by the way. The last one was issued four days later to chemical troops chief S. Petrov and deputy chief of the VPK S. Arzhakov--for immunological weapons.

One can find in the "presidential" archive both these data and the "Foliant" program's production plans for the entire 1980's. For instance, five years before the aforementioned Lenin Prize, on 4 April 1986, the CPSU Central Committee issued a decree on the production plan of chemical warfare agents within the "Foliant" program for the entire five-year period preceding the prize. Most likely it was this decree that launched binary weapons.

I personally know the names of at least two doctors of science (current place of resident--Volsk), whose dissertations centered on how to hide production of binary weapons components behind the production of pesticides at various chemical plants not within the sphere of chemical weapons production. And in such a way that not only international inspectors but even our own commander in chief--that is, the president--would not figure it out. The same subject had been researched by Moscow scientists.

Chronicle of Deception

On 22 July 1987 the CPSU Central Committee Politburo made a decision to organize at the military-chemical test site in Shikhany a show of standard samples of domestically produced chemical weapons. And indeed, at the beginning of October the Soviet Army's 12 chemical weapons were demonstrated to diplomats and journalists.

On 16 January 1988 the Politburo announced to the Disarmament Conference that the USSR's stockpile of chemical weapons does not exceed 50,000 tonnes. Another lie. The figure is grossly understated.

After the total chemical agents stockpile had been reduced to 40,000 tonnes, General Petrov informed the press that with respect to modern chemical agents "at this point the United States and the USSR have achieved parity. Each side has 30,000 tonnes." In reality, the figure was incorrect. During the hearings on chemical weapons in January 1993 in the RSFSR Supreme Soviet it came out that our stockpile of phosphorus chemical agents was 32,300 tonnes.

On 13 January 1993 in Paris, Russia, together with the whole civilized world, signed the multilateral Chemical Weapons Convention. In keeping with this document, the scale of information exchange should increase dramatically. Again, after ratification, however. So far the convention has not been ratified.

"The Concept of Destruction of Chemical Weapons in the Russian Federation," Moscow, 1994. This document was distributed last summer in the United States by Alekseyev, the "ecological colonel" of the Russian Army. It contains a table: which phosphorus chemical agents are kept at each of the five military bases in Russia with the latest chemical weapons (published in OBSHCHAYA GAZETA No. 37, 16 September 1994). If one is to believe the table, munitions with sarin, soman, and V-gas are currently kept at ALL five bases--artillery and aviation. However, according to the official nomenclature of 1987 (see above) this is permitted only for sarin. In addition to the chemical munitions with phosphorus chemical agents that were shown in the fall in Shikhany, the Soviet Army has been and is still armed with others. Chemical weapons are part of the Russian military's armaments, and a situation where the decision to use them may be made simply by "field commanders" is quite feasible.