UK Prime Minister Theresa May stood up to update the House of Commons following her visit to Brussels, where she successfully made her case against Russia.
“No other country has the capability, intent, or motive for the attack.”
Which failed still to provide actual evidence.. but one could argue – if one were so inclined – that Washington (or its NATO generals) have the capability, intent, and motive to undertake such a messy attack.
To cheers, she said:
“Today 18 countries have announced their intention to expel more than 100 intelligence officers” in what she described as the “largest collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers in history.”
She warned that the “challenge of Russia is one that will endure for years to come.”
May insists she has been led by evidence not speculation:
“We have information indicating that Russia has investigated ways of delivering nerve agent and has stockpiled small amounts of novichoks.”
Additionally, she said 130 people in Salisbury may been exposed to the agents used and that Russia came up with “preposterous theories.”
However, as May makes her case – ever more Colin-Powell-like – a Russian official claims that the United States was developing a similar if not identical nerve agent in the 1990s as the one which was used on Russian double-agent Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal.
The claim was made by Igor Rybalchenko – head of the laboratory for chemical and analytical control of the scientific center of the Russian Defense Ministry, who says – without evidence (as are the UK’s claims against Russia), that the A-234 compound in the “Novichok” family of nerve agents was published into a database maintained by the National Bureau of Standards (NBS).
“The fact is that back in 1998 when we looked through another version of the spectral library, which was published by the National Bureau of Standards of the United States (NBS), we found a substance there that we found interesting since it was an organophosphorus substance. And we realized that it must have a strong lethal effect. Now it turns out that, judging by the name of this substance, it was just the same nerve agent, A-234,” Igor Rybalchenko said. -Sputnik
The substance was said to be heavy and volatile based on its molecular formula and molecular weight, and that it was also available at the UK’s Porton Down laboratory.
“I affirm that it exactly corresponds to the formula published by Mirzayanov (Vil Mirzayanov, a Soviet chemist who moved to the USA and the author of the book on the A-234 gas). The chemical name of this substance is A-234 and was named “Novichok” by Boris Johnson, as a substance available in the Porton Down laboratory,” Rybalchenko said.
That said, due to the fact that the Novichok’s chemical structure was never formally classified, according to Professor Alastair Hay at Leeds University, it’s possible that the UK has some of the agent.
It is quite likely that some government laboratories made minute quantities and storied their characteristics in databases, so that their identity could be confirmed at a later stage if found as an unknown poison in someone’s blood, he adds.
Whether this has happened in the UK’s chemical defence laboratory is not known. -BBC
The UK has brushed off Moscow’s allegations that it could have produced the toxin as “absolute nonsense,” as the Kremlin has also made similar claims that Novichok has been produced in Sweden, Slovakia and the Czech Republic – all of which have denied doing so.
Russia’s ambassador to the U.N. has insisted that the development of Soviet-era nerve agents ceased in 1992, and that existing stockpiles were destroyed in 2017.
Moreover, Rybalchenko says that the substance was added to the U.S. database by a member of the Army Armament Research and Development Center.
“The most interesting detail in this story is in the following versions of the database, which usually only expand, they are constantly replenished, more and more substances, we did not find this record. And I can’t explain where is it now,” the Russian military chemist said.
In other words – you’ll have to take his word for it unless evidence of the entry in the 1998 database surfaces.