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In the wake of the August 2013 Ghouta chemical attack, Ted Postol attacked Dan Kaszeta’s argument that hexamine, C6H12N4, was a marker for Sarin made by the Syrian government. Postol is a professor emeritus of Science, Technology, and International Security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Kaszeta is a consultant with experience in chemical warfare issues and worked for the United States Secret Service, the folks who guard the President.

Amines are a part of Sarin production. When Sarin is manufactured, HF is produced. That HF will corrode equipment and destroy the Sarin, so something is needed to neutralize it. HF is an acid and amines (hexamine and others) are bases, which tie up (or scavenge) the HF and neutralize its damaging properties.

We now know that hexamine is the Syrian government’s amine of choice for Sarin manufacture. Postol got that wrong because of two misunderstandings, one in elementary chemistry and the other in basic chemical technology. They are accompanied by smaller errors. The sum of the errors gives the impression of someone with no knowledge of chemistry being aided by a person who has taken Chemistry 101. Postol published his and Kaszeta’s emails on the subject, but has not compiled his argument into an internet post or journal article.

full: https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2018/08/06/naive-set-assumptions-experts-view-ted-postol-hexamine-theories/

(The author was a chemist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory for 35 years. She regularly provides background information to reporters for major publications and has been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Vox. Her work at Los Alamos included projects in fossil fuels, laser development, chemical weapons, open-source intelligence techniques, and the nuclear fuel cycle. She has published in scientific and political science journals and edited a book. She holds an A.B. from Ripon College and an M.S. from the University of California at Berkeley.)
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