State Secrets: An Insider’s Chronicle of the Russian Chemical Weapons Program by Vil. S. Mirzayanov is for me a very scary book for several reasons. (1) You can’t trust a nation’s leadership to tell the truth even when they are making solemn international agreements. (2) You can’t expect the legal processes to reliably release innocent people. (3) You can’t expect the formal powers that are in control to follow clearly stated laws when it conflicts with their own self-interest. (4) You can’t expect scientists to keep secret their success in creating novel new ways of killing people. (5) You can’t expect the details of how to create these new ways to be kept secret from other governments. (6) You can’t expect that the exact methods for creating these horrible new war gasses from becoming common knowledge and easily available on the internet.
My take home message after reading this book: This book is a must read for all policy makers of the world because it illustrates why it is so important to have verifiability of instituted agreements. Making fine sounding laws written up into eloquent text and spoken by refined politicians with perfect idealistic rhetoric means absolutely nothing and in fact may be counterproductive without a mechanism for checking to make sure everyone is obeying the agreements. This requires numerous parties with conflicting interests traveling into the mutually antagonistic situations with different supporters to be able to check everywhere and at any time for compliance. Furthermore, there must be built-in instantaneous punishments for noncompliance. This can be done by having each independent party having something of great value to them already submitted to an escrow holding authority and held in common by the other parties which can be taken away immediately.
If one of the parties can circumvent the agreed upon conventions then they have an advantage and if they can keep it a secret they have a double advantage, if they can keep the other from developing the parallel advantage they have a triple advantage and if they end up deploying the item, such as a super poison gas weapon, they have an ultimate advantage. That is why the inspecting teams must already have in their possession the power to punish the transgressors instantly. Punishment after “thoughtful deliberations” for transgression is futile because there is always plenty of weasel room in post negotiations.
This all seems obvious but the book shows that even as major chemical warfare agreements were being drawn up between the USSR and the Western Powers, there were cunning efforts by the USSR to write out of the negotiations subtle precursor war chemicals which could easily be hidden in standard agricultural insecticide production. Thus, there could be developed a vast weapons program which could easily be hidden. Apparently thousands of tons of these precursor chemicals were stockpiled for near instant use even though the chemicals themselves were relatively benign. The contending countries were developing what are called binary weapons which mixed the relatively safe precursor chemicals in special artillery shells after they had been fired from a standard gun. Using these techniques relatively safe “agricultural chemicals” could be transported to a battle field without violating the carefully negotiated conventions. This is a policy of infinitely evil. It is hypocrisy carried to the ultimate and it will lead to the destruction of common humanity.
At great risk to his life Dr. Mirzayanov had worked for years helping to develop these chemical weapons and then at what appeared to be even greater risk to his life he became a whistle-blower on the hypocrisy of their development. He published an article called A Poisoned Policy which exposed the Russian political duplicity on this issue, without revealing any secret formulas. He was brought before the judicial system of the old USSR with a recent veneer of a new more democratic constitution but the enforcers of this new system were still of the old mentality. Although eventually declared innocent of the charges he was subjected to months of prison confinement before and during a secret trial. The confinment was so brutal it can only be assumed that it was intended to sicken and kill him “accidently” and thus eliminate their judicial problem.
In my proposed beautiful new world of the distant future Weapons of Extermination ( WOEs ) must not only be unavailable they must he absolutely hidden and those who seek them or the knowledge of how to make them must be eliminated. That may be harsh to these few intentionally evil people but it is kind to the vast numbers of innocent ones who won’t die because of these chemists wicked actions.
In the future world we may have peace— in the present world, it is impossible.