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April 12, 2018

New Developments In The Skripal Drama - Police Statement, OPCW Report Release

There are a few notable developments in the Skripal case about the poisoning of a former British secret agent from Russia and his daughter in Salisbury.

(If you are new to the issue please refer to our older pieces listed below. You may want to start with The Best Explanation For The Skripal Drama Is Still ... Food Poisoning.)

On Sunday Yulia Skripal was secretly released from the Salisbury District Hospital but immediately taken into British government custody. She is under guard at an unknown location. Yesterday the Metropolitan Police released a Statement issued on behalf of Yulia Skripal:

"I have specially trained officers available to me, who are helping to take care of me and to explain the investigative processes that are being undertaken. I have access to friends and family, and I have been made aware of my specific contacts at the Russian Embassy who have kindly offered me their assistance in any way they can. At the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services, but, if I change my mind I know how to contact them.
"Most importantly, I am safe and feeling better as time goes by, but I am not yet strong enough to give a full interview to the media, as I one day hope to do. Until that time, I want to stress that no one speaks for me, or for my father, but ourselves. I thank my cousin Viktoria for her concern for us, but ask that she does not visit me or try to contact me for the time being. Her opinions and assertions are not mine and they are not my father's.

"For the moment I do not wish to speak to the press or the media, and ask for their understanding and patience whilst I try to come to terms with my current situation."

While written in quotes it is doubtful that Yulia Skripal expressed any of these words. "At the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services" is British bureaucratese, not the wording any Russian (or anyone else) with English as a second language would ever use.

The Russian embassy in Britain seriously doubts that the letter is from Yulia Skripal. It notes that despite the claim that Yulia has "access to friends and family" none of her nearest family members, who are in Russia, was recently contacted by her. It also notes a contradiction:

Particularly amazing is the phrase “no one speaks for me” appearing in a statement which, instead of being read on camera by Yulia herself, is published at Scotland Yard website.

(The embassy also published a refutation of earlier British government accusations.)

In discussing the police statement the former British ambassador Craig Murray suggests that Yulia Skripal Is Plainly Under Duress:

It strikes me as inherently improbable that, when Yulia called her cousin as her first act the very moment she was able, she would now issue a formal statement through Scotland Yard forbidding her cousin to be in touch or visit. I simply do not believe this British Police statement.


Today the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) released the summary of a technical finding of the substance that allegedly injured Sergej and Yulia Skripal.

The British state media BBC headlines: Russian spy poisoning: Nerve agent inspectors back UK

The report itself does not holdup to the headline claim:

The international chemical weapons watchdog has confirmed the UK's analysis of the type of nerve agent used in the Russian ex-spy poisoning.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons did not name the nerve agent as Novichok, but said it agreed with the UK's findings on its identity.

The British government accused Russia as having caused the incident with a 'nerve agent'. In no way does the OPCW confirm any of those claims. Its press release only states:

The results of the analysis by the OPCW designated laboratories of environmental and biomedical samples collected by the OPCW team confirm the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury and severely injured three people.

Some unnamed 'toxic chemical' was found by Porton Down and the OPCW confirmed that Porton Down was correct in its chemical analysis.

Neither in its press statement nor in its public Summary Report (pdf) does the OPCW speak of finding a 'nerve agent'. But what is this 'toxic chemical'? Saxitoxin, a natural poison that causes Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) which would be consistent with the symptoms the Skripals showed shortly after eating a Risotto Pesce with mussels? Or some artificial agent designed as chemical weapon? Neither the OPCW nor Porton Down will say.

The BBC continues:

The OPCW does identify the toxic chemical by its complex formula but only in the classified report that has not been made public.

Early involvement of the OPCW, as demanded by Russia, was resisted by the British government. Only on March 14, ten days after the incident happened and two days after Prime Minister Theresa may had made accusations against Russia, did the British government invite the OPCW. Only on March 19, 15 days after the incident happen did the OPCW technical team arrive and took blood samples.

Nowhere does the OPCW support the British claims of a 'Novichok' nerve agent nor does it support the British accusations made against Russia.

Previous Moon of Alabama posts on the Skripal case:

March 8 - Poisioned British-Russian Double-Agent Has Links To Clinton Campaign
March 12 - Theresa May's "45 Minutes" Moment
March 14 - Are 'Novichok' Poisons Real? - May's Claims Fall Apart
March 16 - The British Government's 'Novichok' Drama Was Written By Whom?
March 18 - NHS Doctor: "No Patients Have Experienced Symptoms Of Nerve Agent Poisoning In Salisbury"
March 21 - Russian Scientists Explain 'Novichok' - High Time For Britain To Come Clean (Updated)
March 29 - Last Act Of 'Novichok' Drama Revealed - "The Skripals' Resurrection"
March 31 - Hillary Clinton Ordered Diplomats To Suppress 'Novichok' Discussions
April 3 - Operation Hades Blamed Russia - A Model For The 'Novichok' Claims?
April 4 - It's The Cover-Up" - UK Foreign Office Deletes Tweet, Posts False Transcript, Issues New Lies
April 5 - Novi-Fog™ In Fleet Street - Truth Cut Off
April 6 - The Best Explanation For The Skripal Drama Is Still ... Food Poisoning
April 7 - A Very British Farce

Posted by b on April 12, 2018 at 12:46 UTC | Permalink


The BBC are interpreting the confirmation of findings by the UK as vindicating the use of the term 'Novichok'. Also, the purity of the toxic chemical is being seen as vindication of the allegation that a state actor was involved in its production.

Posted by: Shakesvshav | Apr 12 2018 13:01 utc | 1

Is this confidentiality of findings--not disclosing them to Russia--consistent with OPCW rules?

Posted by: Paul | Apr 12 2018 13:02 utc | 2

It was Mossad, spiked their seafood dish with "extra" natural toxin like Saxitoxin. May's gov't and UK/US intel services were not informed this was going to happen, hence the scramble to point fingers without any domestic intel and reliance on "trusted sources".

Likewise Israel did not inform the NATO/US/UK/et. al. of their intention to fire the 8 rockets from warplanes over Lebanon. The Nuttyyahoo and his Zionist/Rothschild masters in control of sniper-killing unarmed Palestinians AND REPORTERS in the Great March obviously would not have advised the US of their plans to commit these premeditated murders.

This is about the "NATO" leaders looking to distract from domestic issues, and the Israeli/US/UK/French Zionist cabal trying to forestall their inevitable defeat in Syria.

Russia and Syria need to very publicly parade the Mossad and other "NATO" agents found in East Ghouta before the world, not allow them to escape with the refugees. And relocation within Syria must stop. Where ever the weapons found with the US/Zionist-backed terrorists originated, that is where those terrorists should be shipped. Along with the broken weapons they carried. Try to hide that from the NATO public. If this had been done in Aleppo, the Zionist/Rothschilds would not have tried yet another false-flag/fake news chemical attack/media storm.

Posted by: A P | Apr 12 2018 13:16 utc | 3

Thanks b,

I'd like to help out the HMG, UK with a minor edit:

"With the exception of the British Government, No one speaks for me."

Fix that for you. Without regard to optics, A very arrogant statement knowing fully well in advance how the OPCW's report could be spun to the media and their sheep.

Yulia is being held in isolation.

Posted by: Likklemore | Apr 12 2018 13:16 utc | 4

Too bad Yulia couldn't make it to the Russian embassy. Or maybe the Ecuadoran embassy, she could compare notes with Assange.

Posted by: A P | Apr 12 2018 13:19 utc | 5

According to the OPCW summary, all three samples showed the same toxin. I take it the third blood sample was taken from the policeman.
The other thing is, the blood samples and samples taken from site three weeks after the event were positively identified?

UK government has also publicly stated that A-234 is the toxin so it will be interesting to see what OPCW has identified it as. Russia is to be given a full copy of the report so perhaps we will get to know what substance OPCW have identified.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Apr 12 2018 13:24 utc | 6

The summary of the report can be found here:

Bizarrely, it avoids identifying the toxin. "The name and structure of the identified toxic chemical are contained in the full classified report of the Secretariat, available to States Parties."

Does anybody know how one might obtain a copy of the full report?

Posted by: farm ecologist | Apr 12 2018 13:31 utc | 7

From the beginning I have been questioning the Bellingcat's (I know, but someone has to do it )in house chemist Dan Kaszeta about all this novichok stuff
He pulled me up on the use of the word "toxin"

"Also, let me clear up your terminology a bit. You use the word “toxin” incorrectly. If it is a nerve agent, by definition it isn’t a toxin."

I wouldn't have thought the OPCW would be careless of it's terminology
I've pointed out that the OPCW used the term "toxic chemical and asked him for comments.No reply so far

Posted by: francesca | Apr 12 2018 13:32 utc | 8

The million dollar question.
When can Russia have a sample to test?
Not in a million years if the British can help it.
Thats obvious.

Posted by: Emily | Apr 12 2018 13:49 utc | 9

So what does this prove? Nothing besides isnt the OPCW report based on info by the brittish analysis?
Meanwhile, News: Britain requests UN Security Council meeting on OPCW report into Salisbury poisoning

The endless hysteria against putin/russia is never ending, its like these brits just cant wait to go to war with Russia!

Posted by: test | Apr 12 2018 13:49 utc | 10

Why didn't the British authorities let her issue a statement in Russian, her native language which would allow her to expess herself more directly, accompanied by an English translation? That would have been clarifying, maybe?

Posted by: Quentin | Apr 12 2018 13:52 utc | 11

Just up on Zerohedge

Chemical Weapons Watchdog Can't Identify Source Of Nerve Agent Used In Skripal Attack

Posted by: Emily | Apr 12 2018 13:56 utc | 12

This is scary. The woman who could not wait to call her cousin from the hospital,
and whose recorded phone call was a testimony to her awareness of being
Just fine, now sounds like a bureaucratic zombie in written statements. The lie
about contacting her relatives is transparent. Her poor grandmother has now lost her son Sergei,
and grand daughter Yulia, after her daughter in law and grandson died of natural causes young.
Yulia is not feeble — evidenced from the phone call. Pointing finger at her cousin
Victoria is bizzare. She is accussed of speaking for Yulia, even though all she saud was her oppinion of the phone call.

Now all of a sudden she is feeble and cannot stand or sit in front of a mictophone to
speak for herself. Does she have access to her father in hospital?
Russia needs to find a third party diplomatic representagion to see Yulia in person,
record both video and audio the conversation. She sounds like a hostage, fearing
probably for her father that is still being kept in the hospital for unknown reason.
This is scary. Soviet Union style.

Posted by: Bianca | Apr 12 2018 14:01 utc | 13

Is there a way to request a Red Cross visit?

Posted by: lysias | Apr 12 2018 14:08 utc | 14

Remember the Litvinenko statement? (link) Very similar, I remember posting about it at the time, and calling it bureaucratic boilerplate, which he would never have produced, as incapable. This statement from Yulia is even more marked in its lawyerly-police-official type language. Note, no attempt, no pretense, has been made to make it resemble what Yulia herself might have dictated/written, and it isn’t a translation either (imho.)

I’m not sure one should make too much of that. It may be an official composition / formulation / re-vamping of what Yulia communicated. Including the point noone speaks for me or my father which sounds like her, but is then embedded in a text actually composed, worked over, by some scribal plod. Requesting cousin Viktoria not visit is comprehensible (busy-body relatives.. big mouths.. creates more problems..she has communicated with MSM..) The message is pretty content-less, excepting the point I mentioned.

I believe Yulia is alive and was poisoned by *something* (one can question both, but if true): — sitting tight, saying nothing much, complying, etc. is exactly what most ppl would do, be it through instinct or calculation. I have a lot of sympathy, waking up after a longish coma following a deathly insult is tough (personal experience) plus being in the midst of a huge international scandal ..yikes. Without +++ agency, the capacity/permit to move around freely, communicate as one wishes, buy a car and scoot, or whatever, it is best to hunker down, show compliance.

Posted by: Noirette | Apr 12 2018 14:13 utc | 15

Can anyone confirm this rumor that Spetsnaz took a bunch of US/UK/Israel special forces captive when they took the chem-weapons plant?

From comment above:"Russia and Syria need to very publicly parade the Mossad and other "NATO" agents found in East Ghouta before the world, not allow them to escape with the refugees."

Posted by: JC | Apr 12 2018 14:25 utc | 16

Does anybody know how one might obtain a copy of the full report?
Posted by: farm ecologist | Apr 12, 2018 9:31:58 AM | 8

No. But try contacting the Russian Embassy in your country and ask for contact details for the Russian Embassy in the UK. If there's a quiz prior to disclosure of the UK contact details, ask to be included in the mailing list when the Russians have finished processing and reacting to the report.
I'd bet a Million Dollars, Pounds or Euros that it'll be up on Ru's UK Embassy website within 7 days - with the bs, equivocations and weasel words hilighted. Russia is going to keep rubbing the Pom's noses in their mendacity until Hell freezes over.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Apr 12 2018 14:25 utc | 17

More and more this saga strikes me as more or less 100% psy-op.

Were samples reliably taken from the blood / tissues of the two Skripals by OPCW operatives who then ensured a watertight chain of custody leading to testing by honest chemists? I have no way of knowing for sure. Can anyone out here?

Were the Skripals poisoned at all? I have no way of knowing for sure. Can anyone out here?

Every day or so brings a new drip feed of confusing bits of information from the UK authorities; none of the info released is independently verifiable and some of it is obviously contradictory and/or false..

Every day a significant proportion of the limited time of intelligent people who care about world peace is diverted into following this surreal WhoDunnit. It has an intriguing if rather implausible plot - and in a sardonic twist, it's even suitable for for children of all ages. So far, there hasn't been one real copse!

This is use of the Dead Cat Strategy:

The people running the psyop have a dry sense of humour. They even included a "real" dead cat in the storyline.

It's all BS!

Posted by: Syd Walker | Apr 12 2018 14:28 utc | 18


You have quite an optimistic-sympathetic interpretation. How about other possibilities, like Skripals were on it from the beginning? If not - they will absolutely have to fall in line with UK's position, and even that may not be sufficient. UK invested too much to just let Skripals walk and freely talk (lets say after return to Russia she might change the tune of what happened), from UK POV its better (and safer) for them to disappear Skripals, the permanent kind.

Official narrative would be "Skripals have a new identity and are safely hidden from the evil ruskies", along with a couple more "Yulia letters", maybe even less obvious fakes, i.e. not in UK's beaurocrat lingvo.

Posted by: Hill | Apr 12 2018 14:30 utc | 19

Minor correction to my last email..

So far, there hasn't been one real corpse - except for two guinea pigs and a cat which was "destroyed" apparently without an autopsy, up the road at porton Down. !

That's the type of exciting and vital work those good folk do at Porton Down: examine distressed cats who've been severely neglected as a result of dastardly deeds by nasty Russians, to establish whether the cats are terminally distressed, and if so "put them to sleep".

And now, children, time to sleep. We can read another chapter tomorrow at bedtime..

Posted by: Syd Walker | Apr 12 2018 14:35 utc | 20

Syd Walker says:

It's all BS

yeah, but i think the thinking is to pile the BS so high 'til the underlying temperature and pressure reach 2,200 degrees fahrenheit and 725,000 pounds per square inch respectively, and produce a diamond, or i should say, something of value.

Posted by: john | Apr 12 2018 14:53 utc | 21

Russia has not received the full classified OPCW report. Mistake or deliberate omission by OPCW so Russia cannot respond with facts?

Posted by: TJ | Apr 12 2018 14:53 utc | 22

@21 Syd
The feel good side of this, I suppose, would be that the Porton Down guys have a lot of practice when it comes to putting poor critters to their final rest. Shortly, we might learn the cat's been really lucky to have met its end with the aid of such capable hands.

Posted by: Hmpf | Apr 12 2018 14:58 utc | 23


12. The name and structure of the identified toxic chemical are contained in the full
classified report of the Secretariat, available to States Parties.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Apr 12 2018 15:01 utc | 24

From the earlier lists of questions put up by the Russian foreign ministry, UK had sent samples to France for testing. It is also UK, France and US that are trying to build up the courage to attack Syria.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Apr 12 2018 15:05 utc | 25

Since it was just the UK that asked for technical assistance to the OPCW and this report is in answer to that call for assistance, does that mean that the "States Parties" would only be the UK. That is, only the UK government gets to see the full copy of the report?

Posted by: Jim | Apr 12 2018 15:06 utc | 26

Yesterday via the Craig Murray blog it became apparent an important question has been missed: who was the main target on the hit on the Skripals? All along we've been assuming Sergei. It's now possible the hit was directed primarily at Yulia. This comes from a long analytical piece with accompanying video at about 2 and a half minutes.

This source is usually disregarded as tabloid. It suggests the problem roots into the mother of Yulia's fiancé. The fiancé has behaved strangely and gone underground. The video presents the hospital staff as credible. I'm not drawing conclusions from any of this, as with "rogue mother-in-law-to-be did it."

As to the statement supposedly from Yulia I agree it's peculiar, with idiomatic English the giveaway, but it's also possible the person writing it received Yulia's approval for "the spirit" of what it says. And it may be, along with moving her to a military base, done to protect her versus incarcerating her.

All this is possible without being conclusive, as usual.

Posted by: Sid2 | Apr 12 2018 15:06 utc | 27


According to Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, Maria Zakharova in giving her weekly news briefing about 15 minutes ago the Russians have not received the full classified report, hence my query whether the OPCW were deliberately leaving the Russian in the dark.

Posted by: TJ | Apr 12 2018 15:07 utc | 28

As most of us who have examined this case conclude, the U.K./U.S. narrative is surely bogus, just as the Syria "attack" was as well. And the two are surely connected, with the same end goal of which we are aware. Since all MSM promote the neocon agenda (kudos to Tucker Carlson as a rare exception on the Syria b.s.), it falls on independent journalists (and us) to seek the truth
As we look at theories of what truly happened to the Skripals, an oddity is that the two of them apparently became incapacitated at exactly the same time on the park bench. Considering factors such as varying metabolism, body chemistry, differentials in toxin dosage for the two, and the time elapsed since exposure, that is quite unlikely (though admittedly possible). The assumption is that if the first succumbed even 60 seconds before the other, the second would have phoned or attempted to summon help. This could call into question any poisoning that occurred at an earlier time, including at the restaurant.
A scenario that should be explored is whether the Skripals themselves were a part of this con game; it could be coercion, physical threat, financial enrichment, etc. as a possible reason. As long as they stayed with the script, (probably knowing a true "accident" awaited them if they didn't), the case could maybe never be "solved", which is the point.
Maybe a long shot, but I consider it a possibility.

Posted by: kabobyak | Apr 12 2018 15:08 utc | 29

@27 "States Parties" are all states that are part of the OPCW including Russia.

Posted by: TJ | Apr 12 2018 15:10 utc | 30

So-called Syrian rebels are now on cue talking about "never agent" used in E. Ghouta. MSM is also peppering its reports with wordings like "never agent".

Btw, have you entertain the idea that the Skripals maybe are willingly playing their parts in the "never agent poisioning" drama? After all, they have almost everything to gain (a guaranteed comfort life without money worry for the rest of their life) and nothing to lose?

Till now we are actually following the official British narratives that the Skripals are the passive victims.

Posted by: mali | Apr 12 2018 15:22 utc | 31


Thanks. Apparently according to the OPCW website that covers almost all countries, with some notable exceptions.

Their webpage about this report says "The UK’s delegation to the OPCW requested that the Technical Secretariat share the report with all States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and to make the Executive Summary of the report publicly available. "

Posted by: Jim | Apr 12 2018 15:23 utc | 32

TJ @ 29

Like the WHO "assessment" of E. Ghota CW basing on the information provided by Turkey based Syrian activists.

MSM is playing its usual active manipulative role in broadcasting dis-/misinformation to the public.

Posted by: mali | Apr 12 2018 15:25 utc | 33

TJ 29

This from TASS
"The Russian Permanent Mission to the organization has received the report, but "it will take some time to study it," a source told TASS."

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Apr 12 2018 15:27 utc | 34

There would be a lucrative market for some nerve agent of some kind in jihad circles. If they could get their hands on some of the real thing, staging a chemical attack would be so much more realistic. It would even be possible to bring in genuine inspectors to confirm the dastardly deed and need not rely on photos of recycled dead children. Wouldn't that make a wonderful casus belli!
Not easy to surreptitiously get your hands on though. Even for well funded terrorists like the white helmets. Perhaps a corrupt Russian ex-spy with connections to very shady elements could get some delivered by using his daughter as a mule. Regrettably, if the supplier didn't thoroughly clean and de-gas the exterior of the container a non fatal but very unpleasant poisoning could occur.
The daughter would have little choice but to assist and cooperate as she would otherwise be in danger of extremely serious charges.
The OPCW would have a proper mass sample to test, if a container existed, rather than 15 day old in vivo samples. That would explain the impurities comments and the seemingly definite analysis, which would not be the case if they were relying on metabolised material. Also explains the traces throughout the house and on the doorknob, car handle etc. Why the delay in action? Well, it is supposed to be 30 years old after all.

Posted by: Phillip O'Reilly | Apr 12 2018 15:28 utc | 35

to Noirette, You have quite an optimistic-sympathetic interpretation. Hill, 20.

Yes, I am aware of that. No-way I am excusing or justifiying the actions of Brit authorities / the May Gvmt. / the local subservient plods / Porton Down / MI6/ etc., my opinion about them is best kept mum as the Brits would say. As for the Skirpals as complicit, I don't think so.

My take since the start is still current, is that xyz poisoning of both Yulia and Sergey did occur, and they were hospitalised in Salisbury.

Accidental (food) as I suggested right away, or deliberate.

If deliberate, the means have taken front stage - Novichok and all the rest. As we all can note, the actual agent is not identified (see above and previous b posts and many responses plus the latest report, etc.) Nothing much can be gleaned, concluded, from all that.

Who were the intended victims? (lacking forensics and other facts, etc.)

Restaurant goers, heh poor cuisine, exploited by GB Gvmt, because of the identities of the victims (Russia > evil, anything goes.. jump on it Theresa, Boris.. )

Rogue spy-vs-spy affecting some in ‘Russ’ circuit -> Sergey as a traitor or a convenient figure to attack - old revenge - Yulia collateral damage

Yulia as a loathed future daughter in law, no 1. , along with her father (traitor), hated by some...

Posted by: Noirette | Apr 12 2018 15:28 utc | 36

@2 . . . re: the BBC's conclusions (I know you're just citing them) . . . if the chemical was so pure, per paragraph #11 of the released OPCW summary, wouldn't that also make it even more unlikely that the three victims have survived for over a month? For that matter, do chemicals of this sort typically stay pure over a month's time? (In a person's body or exposed to open air on a doorknob, for example.)

Also, a smaller loophole, perhaps . . . paragraphs #4 and #5 of the summary emphasize the full chain of custody on OPCW-collected samples from the three affected individuals" and "environmental samples" -- but does not say anything in #6 about chain of custody of the "splits of samples taken by British authorities". Of course, they couldn't have verified the latter themselves, not having been there at the time -- but they don't even say there's a record of chain of custody that they could evaluate.

Posted by: jalp | Apr 12 2018 15:33 utc | 37

Be aware of the timing!

Britain requests UN Security Council meeting on OPCW report into Salisbury poisoning , Johnson is jumping out accusing Russia again.

Are they trying to corner Russia to make some comprise on Syria?

Tomorrow is Friday, 13th. Maybe we should really keep high alert tonight?

Posted by: mali | Apr 12 2018 15:33 utc | 38

Phillip O'Reilly @35

Jihadists do not need to do anything and they shall get the nerve agent delivered to their hands by the three-letter-agencies. All the jihadists/NGOs need to do to smear/spray the nerve agent/CW on the bodies they could easily find or some prisoners killed at will and then take photos. Then present the bodies and photos to the OPCW. Job is done.

Posted by: mali | Apr 12 2018 15:39 utc | 39

Peter Ford on BBC Radio Scotland pushing back:

Posted by: spudski | Apr 12 2018 15:48 utc | 40

The key question here is who took the blood samples from the Skripals? By the OPCW itself and OPCW was sent the samples by the British?

Posted by: mali | Apr 12 2018 15:50 utc | 41

Craig Murray has tweeted that the word "Russia" appears nowhere in the report and it says nothing about the origin of the toxic chemical whatsoever.

Posted by: Shakesvshav | Apr 12 2018 15:53 utc | 42

Why trust the OPCW in the first place? Is anyone of the involved scientists there a Russian, a Chinese, an Iranian, or some other not-poodle nationality?
Yesterday we had the example of the WHO siding with the war party. The whole UN was never impartial. At the contrary the UN was build as an u.s.-dominance tool.
I would trust findings reached together by the two parts, agreed by them. And nothing else. Currently there is no neutral entity.

Posted by: Pnyx | Apr 12 2018 15:54 utc | 43

@37 Boris is being very clever, scheduling the meeting for after the annihilation of the human race very shortly!

Posted by: TJ | Apr 12 2018 16:01 utc | 44

thanks b..... it is scary about yulia and the fact she doesn't have her freedom... it is much like assange in as far as the british gov't role is concerned here as i see it...

but the other part of this is the concerted effort on the part of the uk to propagandize this to make russia out to be the bad guy when in fact the uk have not been playing by the rules... not only that - they want to give the guilty verdict on russia absent facts... this is propaganda and it is plain to see... i guess when the uk and friends are busy funding propaganda outlets like the white helmets, this ought to not surprise... it is a shame how long the west have sunk in their subservience to making war at any cost...

Posted by: james | Apr 12 2018 16:02 utc | 45

Pressure on the OPCW is not unknown:

Posted by: Shakesvshav | Apr 12 2018 16:05 utc | 46

For those speculating about whether the Skripals are alive:

If the Skripal’s were dead, I’m pretty sure Russia could claim their bodies (or at least Yulia’s) and do tests. So the Skripal’s have to remain “alive” even if they are actually dead.

If they were playing along then they would have to be killed otherwise they might tell the truth in the future. As a former intel officer, Mr. Skripal would probably have recognized the danger of playing along and would not want to put his loving daughter and only child at risk (his other child, a son, died not long ago).

The silence of the boyfriend is strange. I don’t know what to make of that.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Apr 12 2018 16:17 utc | 47

what is a toxic chemical anyway? could it be the same as the food poisoning ingredient?

language is a bugaboo... it gets used regularly to scare and obfuscate... is that the same deal here?

Posted by: james | Apr 12 2018 16:22 utc | 48

Even the CIA/MI6 are not stupid enough to give their jihadist "allies" real top-lethality toxic agents. Which is why all the US-Zionist jihadist chem attacks in Syria are from combining chlorine and garden variety fertilizers etc.

And Mossad, the most likely source for the toxins used against the Skripals/Litvineko as Israel is not a signatory to any WMD-limiting treaties, knows the limits of the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" truism. Turkey for decades (centuries?) has stumbled back and forth across the enemy/friend line so many times it is a wonder any other country or agency trusts anything they say, let alone do.

So no, the jihadist "allies" wont be getting the real nasty chemical WMD's in any amount any time soon.
The very real fear that friend may become and enemy makes the risk too great.

Posted by: A P | Apr 12 2018 16:59 utc | 49

Have there been any photos of Yulia in the UK media since her recovery and at the time of her discharge?

Did she not stand on the hospital steps and thank her doctors without taking questions?

Posted by: Bart Hansen | Apr 12 2018 17:03 utc | 50

One of the Skripal's cats escaped.

That cat needs to be found and taken to safety for some blood tests before the British government gets their hands on it. You know the British authorities will either incinerate that cat too, or simply silently "disappear" it if they get hold of it.

Posted by: WilliamGruff | Apr 12 2018 17:10 utc | 51

U.S. officials: Blood samples show nerve agent, chlorine in Syria gas attack

Anonymous sources again, what utter bollocks.

Posted by: TJ | Apr 12 2018 17:30 utc | 52

It is of course a tactic Trump/west use now, making people believe, "oh Trump backed sigh, there will be no war" only to start the war days later when everyone is unprepared and thus doing the greatest harm.

Posted by: test | Apr 12 2018 17:35 utc | 53

From the summary:

10. The results of analysis by the OPCW designated laboratories of environmental and biomedical samples collected by the OPCW team confirm the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury and severely injured three people.
11. The TAV team notes that the toxic chemical was of high purity. The latter is concluded from the almost complete absence of impurities.
12. The name and structure of the identified toxic chemical are contained in the full classified report of the Secretariat, available to States Parties.

The language seems to exclude food poisoning ("that was used in Salisbury"). The OPCW is talking of "high purity" (not using the biased "military grade").

Let's not dig into Bellingcat's definition of terms. Here is the OPCW definition which is what counts in this context:

"2. "Toxic Chemical" means:

Any chemical which through its chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans or animals. This includes all such chemicals, regardless of their origin or of their method of production, and regardless of whether they are produced in facilities, in munitions or elsewhere."

The OPCW does not add anything to the Porton Down analysis (which was exploited for political purposes by Theresa May, Boris Johnson and their cohorts).

I would be very interested in where the OPCW took the environmental samples. This is not in the summary. The report itself would contain a detailed section on this as well as tables documenting exactly where the environmental samples were taken and what their testing showed, including environmental samples that did not show any relevant results (i.e. no toxic chemical).

Posted by: BX | Apr 12 2018 17:37 utc | 54

Exactly what I thought when I read the OPCW statement. Specially the last paragraph.

And concerning Yulia... if she phoned her cousin the first time, why would she would now use a written statement?

Someone kindly tell my how high are the Brexit costs, please. Gently.

Posted by: Vasco Valente | Apr 12 2018 17:40 utc | 55

Addendum to my post (54): I searched the CONVENTION ON THE PROHIBITION OF THE DEVELOPMENT, PRODUCTION, STOCKPILING AND USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS AND ON THEIR DESTRUCTION and found only 1 instance of "nerve agent" on page 100(where this term is used to differentiate 2 types of chemical weapons as to their area of impact (nerve agents and blister agents; not meant to an exclusive list in the text of the Convention). The use of "nerve agent" appears to be altogether incorrect and highly loaded politically (it elicits a certain reaction from listeners). Again, the OPCW uses "toxic chemical" as their technical term for a type of chemical weapon of which they define 3 types (page 17).

Posted by: BX | Apr 12 2018 17:51 utc | 56

All the evidence seems to point to both Skripals being long since dead. The fact that even from an early stage all the hospital staff were put under the official secrets act and threatened against talking shows that there was an intention from an early stage to cover up their health status. The phone call was certainly faked from the Yulia end (but genuine on the Viktoria end - it was a British agent speaking with digital voice modification to make it sound like Yulia, which is why Viktoria hesitated at first to recognise her) - it was a deliberate ploy to plant the idea that they are still alive.

If the nerve agent was pure, as the OPCW appears to claim, then the attack would have to have taken place on the park bench - which for many reasons is infinitely more plausible from the point of view of the timeline of the Skripals' response to the poisonings. All incriminating cctv evidence would have been destroyed already.

The disappearance of the fiance is best understood as a subsidiary murder by the British state. If he had been left alive he would be too difficult to keep away from the hospital, and would have asked too many questions that the UK would have great difficulty dealing with. The accusations of the Skripal family against the fiance's mother have probably been seeded by rumours planted by MI6 assets; it forms a convenient diversion and backup in case the main plot fails.

Both police statements "by Yulia Skripal" are blatant fakes. If she was alive, why would she not issue a statement herself? Why was there no statement in Russian at all? - Because she is dead. If the British concocted a Russian language statement it would be immediately obvious to her closest family and friends that it was fake, because the British (or native Russian accomplices who did not know Yulia intimately) could never mimic the ideosynchracies of the way she would express herself and the way she thinks.

Worth bearing in mind that the phone call came on the scene straight after Russia announced a murder/attempted murder investigation. If the Skripals allegedly survive then the British claim there was no murder.

Motive: Sergei was obviously the prime source of the Steele dossier, and had to be silenced at all costs.

Posted by: BM | Apr 12 2018 18:01 utc | 57

"The samples suggested the presence of both chlorine gas and an unnamed nerve agent, two officials said. Typically, such samples are obtained through hospitals and or collected by U.S. or foreign intelligence assets on the ground. The officials said they were "confident" in the intelligence, though not 100 percent sure."

Absolutely irrelevant evidence as there is no chain of custody. I can only think of Idlib as the source for these samples (where Army of Islam was bussed to). "confident in the intelligence though not 100 percent sure" - is this what Macron was referring to?

"France has proof the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack last week and will decide whether to strike back when all the necessary information has been gathered, President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday."

This is all unconscionable and a perversion of Western principles of reason.

Posted by: BX | Apr 12 2018 18:03 utc | 58

From the OPCW report (in the beginning):

...involving a toxic chemical - allegedly a nerve agent -

Why only "allegedly"? (Nerve agents are synthetic poisons, as opposed to biological neurotoxins.)

Are they not sure if the poison is synthetic or biological? Or did they found out that it was not of synthetic origin, and the term "nerve agent" was only introduced by those who gave them the samples?

Posted by: mk | Apr 12 2018 18:09 utc | 59

Thanks for this update, and keeping the issue of the Skripals’ fate on the front burner during this burgeoning multiplicity of geopolitical crises.

But every update still comports with my oft-repeated concern that, as far as I can tell, all of the primary/direct sources of information about the Skripals and the alleged crime comes from dubious and/or manifestly untrustworthy sources– which is to say, “official” sources.

It is no coincidence that the Western governments' increasing reliance on propaganda, disinformation, and false-flag deceptions has been facilitated in recent years by the erosion and elimination of traditional sources of countervailing authoritative criticism.

There was a time when at least some mass-media organizations and investigative journalists would seek to challenge dubious official accounts-- to use a handy analogy, they were like Dorothy's little dog Toto in "The Wizard of Oz", who sagaciously pulls away the curtain that reveals the powerful Wizard to be a mendacious blowhard and charlatan.

Now contrarian muckraking journalism has been driven to the Internet fringes and "alternative" venues, and the powerful media corporations are singing government-approved disinformation in harmony.

Likewise, independent scientific and technical organizations once had a reputation for providing accurate, honest analysis without fear or favor. Again, this is no longer the case-- now these organizations have become thoroughly politicized and compromised to serve as still more reinforcement for manufacturing consent.

The OPCW joins the dishonorable ranks of NIST, which cobbled together a "truthy" fairy-tale about the destruction of WTC Building 7 on 9/11/2001; the Dutch fraudsters who supported the bogus claim that Russia or Ukraine "rebels" downed the MH-17 aircraft; WADA's "doping" report fabricated to impose collective guilt and punishment on Russian athletes.

The other day, I wrote that the most egregious open question in l'affaire Skripal is why the recovered and discharged Yulia Skripal is still being kept under wraps. With all due respect, I wouldn’t trust Christine Blanshard, Medical Director at Salisbury District Hospital, as far as I could throw her.

Every time Blanshard piously said “Yulia asks…”, it made me shudder. It’s obvious enough that these are exactly the kind of vague, and frankly dodgy, reassurances and platitudes a kidnapper would make on behalf of a still-missing victim.

Since then, the official statements about and “on behalf of” Yulia have proliferated along the same themes: they all serve to justify, or rather "explain away" Yulia’s virtual disappearance.

I don't rule out that the Skripals may have been complicit in this staged incident. But even if this is the case, Alfred Hitchcock never filmed a more chilling and sinister series of plot twists.

"'What is truth?' said jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer."

--Francis Bacon, "Of Truth" (1625)

Posted by: Ort | Apr 12 2018 18:41 utc | 60

Russian response to the kidnapping and imprisonment of one of its citizens is remarkably lackluster. If Russians did the same to the British or the Americans, the level of noise would be higher by the order of magnitude. Moscow need to up its game - and quickly. Strict adherence to the rules of the game that is stacked in favor of its adversaries is a recipe for defeat.

Posted by: telescope | Apr 12 2018 18:50 utc | 61

BM @57

Maybe Steele used Scripal’s daughter and her fiancé to collect info or as a go-between? Skripal probably would not have objected back then as the risk to his daughter would’ve appeared to be rather low at the time.

Also, if the Skripal’s are dead (as seems likely) and were poisoned on the park bench, SD Nick Bailey seems to be a prime suspect.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Apr 12 2018 19:25 utc | 62


I posted this comment on Craig Murray's blog back in March--it's a parsing of the language of the UK High Court decision--but am reposting here because I think it is still pertinent given what the OPCW does not say, and also given b's hypothesis about the possible toxic in question in the Skripal case.

March 23, 2018 at 19:53

Regarding the ambiguity of some phrases in the High Court judgment, I submitted this comment further up-thread but since it directly pertains to your argument here I am re-posting here. I have found in my profession that in reading legal documents, one should always opt for the WEAKEST reading possible if there is ANY ambiguity in the language. Hence the following.

There are two non-identical sentences describing the Skripals’ test results in the high court judgment. How should we read them, individually and in combination. Here is my guess:

I think the truth behind the first sentence is that the Skripals tested positive not for a nerve agent, but for a “related compound.” (Otherwise this phrase would not have been included at all.) This could mean EITHER that they tested possible for everyday chemicals that in certain combinations could be used to produce a nerve agent, but in this case were not, OR that they tested possible for a poison that is not a nerve agent at all, but a “related compound”–i.e. a “compound” (and not a simple element) that causes effects “related” to (but not identical with) those of nerve agents.

The second sentence is designed to weaken my skeptical reading of the first sentence without actually stating a lie, under conditions of plausible deniability. The second sentence states that they tested positive for “a Novichok class nerve agent” OR “a closely related agent.” The key to understanding the second sentence is that the adjective “nerve” need not be taken to modify the second use of the word “agent,” even though that is the most natural and plausible way to read the sentence for a native English speaker. Rather, a “closely related agent” could refer to a non-nerve agent–a different kind of poison–that is “closely related” to a “Novichok class nerve agent” in precisely the way that the “related compound” is related to “nerve agent” in the first sentence: i.e. it is an agent that produces or is intended to produce “closely related” (in the relevant sense) effects–sickness, poisoning, etc–to those of a nerve agent (Novichok class or otherwise).

So the two sentences are designed to obfuscate the truth without stating an outright lie under conditions of plausible deniability. And the lawyerly way to read them is to read them in the weakest way possible: the Skripals tested positive for a non-nerve-agent poison.
This reading would also seem to fit with the facts–about nerve agents, about the Skripals’ symptoms, about the timeline–as we now understand them. It also matches up with the much discussed Salisbury physician’s letter to the editor, which differentiates “poison” from “nerve agent” in just this way.”

Posted by: WJ | Apr 12 2018 19:42 utc | 63

How many times,exactly, had the door been opened and shut from the leaving of the skripals, to the 'discovery' of the substance on the doorknob; and by whom? Not that I expect an answer.

Posted by: Estaugh | Apr 12 2018 20:49 utc | 64

A few hours ago at the US House Armed Services Committee Budget Hearing General Dunford was asked what US legal authority there was in order to strike Syria in response to the chemical incident. He responded that they would be doing so under Article 2 in defence of US forces in theatre.

Yes, you read that correctly, the US will attack Syria, presumably destroying what they regard as development labs/storage and delivery sites, to protect its forces, that are already there illegally, from possible gas attacks.

He also said that it would be due to Syria's violation of the Chemical Weapons Treaty.


Posted by: JohninMK | Apr 12 2018 21:02 utc | 65

Just to add to my post 65, Dunsford said that he could not assume that whilst it was not used on US forces this time it would not be in the future.

The first point this was raised is around 80 minutes and then again 93 mins. Also why are the US still there at 126 mins

Posted by: JohninMK | Apr 12 2018 21:28 utc | 66

@ telescope | 61

"Russian response to the kidnapping and imprisonment of one of its citizens is remarkably lackluster."

That struck me, too. Why are they not making more of a fuss about this aspect of the Skripal case? Maybe they have done so and we just don't know anything about it, but they should formally report a Russian national missing with the police in Britain, on a low level, just like you would with any other person that's mysteriously disappeared. Force them to treat it by the book, leave a paper trail, make them come up with answers at different levels. Make the report with police in London and Salisbury. Have not just the embassy make that missing-person report in their official capacity, but Vicky Skripal simply as a relative, as well. Appoint Vicky a Russian diplomat, try to get her into Britain. Hire a PI. Try to book ads in Britain, like printing Yulia's picture on milk cartons, "Have you seen this woman?" Those t*ssers (pardon me) who pass for HRH's Government these days need to be kept busy, irritated. Chances are, someone will make a mistake, cracks in the story will appear and the whole thing will blow up. May or Johnson (or both) will have to resign eventually, I'm sure of that. Have you noticed how we don't hear a peep from the Home Office about the Skripal case, although it's their turf (police work, domestic security)? Nothing! Seems like Amber Rudd has her wits about. Next PM if you ask me, unless Labour somehow manages to enforce a new general election.

"Strict adherence to the rules of the game that is stacked in favor of its adversaries is a recipe for defeat."

Amen to that.

Posted by: Scotch Bingeington | Apr 12 2018 21:31 utc | 67

The 351 comments yesterday (I have not seen higher at this level) is an accolade to b., for all his hard work and immense humility. Thank you so much, b.

Posted by: Lochearn | Apr 12 2018 23:25 utc | 68

The purity of the samples which the OPCW scientists stated does in no way point to a state actor. Rather it is very contraindicative for a nerve agent from military sources.

Military chemical agents stem from industrial processes. In such processes large quantities of the chemicals are produced, tons, or even more. The vessels, tubes, reactors etc. are held as clean as necessary not to compromise the efficiency of the product, utter purity is not an objective, the substance is meant to kill, not to look nice in an analysis. As in every industrial process, some sedimentations occur which create a special mix of impurities, sort of a "chemical fingerprint" identifiable by mass spectography and pointing to the source of the chemical agent in question.

High purity points to scientific laboratories where small quantities of a chemical are produced. Here a high degree of purity is desired and achieved.

Of course this does not exclude the possibility that state laboratories - like Porton Down, or any of their counterparts elsewhere - could be the place where that substance was produced. Btw, I am not sure whether a fish toxin would qualify for a substance of outstanding purity, sadly.


Posted by: aquadraht | Apr 12 2018 23:29 utc | 69

"CORRECTION World's chemical arms watchdog the OPCW says it has confirmed Britain's findings on nerve agent used in attack on former spy #SergeiSkripal last month, which London said came from Russia. (Changes to clarify OPCW did not confirm that chemical came from Russia)"

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Apr 13 2018 0:16 utc | 71

@65 john... General Dunceford is a better name for him..

Posted by: james | Apr 13 2018 1:26 utc | 72

Next on the news:
Further to our last month quiz show where contestants were asked to find out about the nature of some chemical substance used... in the March Screwball Bingo Incident we have a late winner entry:
'The Ever Loyal Watchdog Chemical Arms Linked To The Body Of a More Famous Worldwide Vital Organ'.
The agent used was identified as some 'Banapple gaz' first released in 1976 by a wellknown Cat. Nobody really knows what's made out of but it's no... laughing matter! (As we all know by now... dogs happen to chase cats)

Posted by: kpax | Apr 13 2018 2:07 utc | 73

The published OPCW summary only confirms a "toxic chemical". It does not even confirm a "nerve agent".

If the OPCW is being precise in its wording - then, the public and media are doing the work of Boris Johnson and co. in extrapolating to claim it confirms a nerve agent (let alone a "novichok").

Until there is word on such things that comes out from viewers of the private report - the only confirmation from the OPCW is of a "toxic chemical" and a concurrence with unspecified UK findings.

This is consistent with the letter of Stephen Davies, Consultant in emergency medicine, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust reporting "no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning".

"Sir, Further to your report (‘Poison exposure leaves almost 40 needing treatment’), may I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning. Several people have attended the emergency department concerned that they may have been exposed. None has had symptoms of poisoning and none has needed treatment. Any blood tests performed have shown no abnormality. No member of the public has been contaminated by the agent involved.

STEPHEN DAVIES Consultant in emergency medicine, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust”

Times of London, March 14, 2018

p.s. perhaps, full report will state what UK findings it confirms - in absence of that info, we should not take for granted anything. All the OPCW confirms in its published report is a "toxic chemical". We do the work of Boris Johnson to extrapolate novichok.

Posted by: Adrian | Apr 13 2018 5:25 utc | 74

@63 WJ and 69 aquadraht

I agree completely that very careful analysis of the precise language used (and not used) is informative, especially in the 3 instances where scientists and/or the court are involved. The first was the Porton Down statement which, even after extremely heavy pressure from the government, insisted on adding language speaking of the "class" of Novichok (i.e., presumably, any organophosphate) or "related," which is even weaker and could presumably mean damn near anything that is bad for you. Next is the Court's finding, where as WJ points out the Court is very careful to include all of those same qualifiers (along with several references to other representations made to the Court, such as that there are no known relatives, etc., of which the Court is clearly dubious and wanting to "make a record").

Finally we have the OPCW report, which essentially incorporates the original Porton Down finding, which as pointed out is technically so broad as to be almost meaningless. All go to some lengths to distance themselves from assigning any culpability or sourcing information, which is completely contradicted by the political announcements.

To me, one of the most curious things about the OPCW summary is the conspicuous and otherwise unneeded mention of incredible purity of some or all of the samples. As Aquadraht points out, this is not a compliment, it seems to me more of a giant red flag, being thrown up by a (or more than one) scientist at the OPCW who is not allowed to come out and say the British samples are suspiciously perfect, as if planted after the fact and from a laboratory (Porton Down) source, but wants to ensure the Russians and anyone else interested in the truth does not miss that point.

Posted by: J Swift | Apr 13 2018 8:17 utc | 75

Firstly, here is the link to the OPCW report on the Scripals

It basically says, blood samples from the victims and soil samples (not stated where from) confirm the presence of a nerve agent, consistent with what the UK has presented.
As per their remit, no determination as to the source of the agent was attempted or reported.

When they first arrived at hospital, the Scripals were treated for seafood poisoning. Once it became apparent who they were, the security services were informed.

Given the similarity of shellfish poisoning to nerve agent poisoning, I think the spooks saw an opportunity to score some points againts the Russians.

Porton Down would be ordered to dip into their stocks, or to immediately synthesize a nerve agent that pointed to Russia. (How long does it take to make this stuff anyway?) It would probably be 100% pure, although of questionable strength.

It would be a simple matter to spread this around the various sites. I particularly liked Peter Lavelle's descripion of the "poisoned knob"

Here's the nub of the proposition. How to get the Novichok into the now hospitalised Skripal's bloodstreams. I'm at a loss, but others might take this further.

Something that I do wonder about is Russia saying that an OPCW mission to Syria will show that no chemical attack took place there, yet they are unwilling to acccept the OPCW's report on the Scripals.
Surely that report does nothing to point the finger at them. They can't have it both ways.

Posted by: trepidacious | Apr 13 2018 8:25 utc | 76

A "nerve agent" is a toxin who's mode of action is acetylcholinesterase inhibitor and had been manufactured for use as a chemical weapon. There are many chemical compounds/toxins that are AChE inhibitors, synthesized/synthetic or perhaps natural, but it is only those that have been manufactured as a CW that are termed nerve agents. Perhaps this is the reason the brits have been pushing the claim that Russia manufactured and stockpiled 'Novichok'.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Apr 13 2018 9:00 utc | 77

From Pat Lang's site:

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has issued a Warning Order to the relevant units and an Alert/Deployment Order. This means that US forces are moving into position to launch military operations when given the order to EXECUTE by Donald Trump.

We are not yet at that moment, but it appears to be nigh. Scuttlebutt is that SecDef Mattis and CIA Acting Haspel are urging caution because there is no supporting intelligence for the claim that a "chemical weapon" was used. In fact, there is not even confirmation about the supposed civilian casualties.

Posted by: Nuff Sed | Apr 13 2018 9:35 utc | 78

British Journalism Today.

There were growing fears last night over the tense situation that has caused widespread alarm. Experts believe that as long as "threats" remain "appropriate action must be taken quickly" before events "spin out of control", while campaigners called for a "robust response" to the "deeply troubling" reports. A source close to the intelligence services warned that "lives could be lost", and activists demanded that "something must be done".

Meanwhile a government spokesperson, speaking on conditions of anonymity, expressed "increasing concern" on the unfolding crisis and vowed to "meet the challenge head-on" and take a "firm stand" if "red lines are crossed".

Further claims later emerged confirming that the earlier allegations were 'almost certainly true' according to a member of the scientific community. They went on to say the latest developments 'left no doubts' and "confirmed the initial reports".

It is now generally accepted that Russia did it, and that "in all likelihood" it was Putin himself who gave the order.

In other news Google has vowed to crack down on fact-free 'fake news' which is threatening to undermine our democracy.

PS Although I try to avoid watching tv news (it gets me too angry) I did see a snatch last night. On ITV (commercial channel here in UK) the evacuation was illustrated by some children getting off a bus and the voiceover saying “Bewildered and hundreds of miles from home” before going on to say – I kid you not- “Ethnic cleansing by chlorine”.
May the evil rotten fuckers rot in hell.

Posted by: Willie Wobblestick | Apr 13 2018 9:38 utc | 79

|Not having made halfway through this commentary, an observation should be made about the credibility of any report being given as to alleged 'facts found'. Is this the same OPCW that verified CW use based on 'white helmet videos' without bothering to directly inspect the supposed site and was basis of 'contra-regime' propaganda? Is this the same OPCW that Russia vetoed because attributed statements were without foundation or substance? What evidence has been provided that this OPCW report that substantiates british [sic - capitalisation] intelligence that specific nerve agents were used without so much as a fact. Although food poisoning adequately accounts for two of the three poisonings reported, accounting for the third poisoning is not credible unless the OD DS also ate the same lunch at the pizza place where food poisoning is alleged. NO! the holes in either presumption would make Swiss cheese look like a solid mass. Only drug use can account for the reported incident, and tying Russia to such cannot be done with any credibility. Please observe how corporate media has built a narrative cage that no one can escape from without seriously damaging their political standing. Even the informed commentariat is framed by that established narrative and has only the leeway of food poisoning to fall back on; lost are the early words first reported by local media from those in attendance as well as a written correction by an attending physician leaking, unfiltered through early corporate media reporting. Just why would that doctor have an agenda to tie Russia to an allegation. I doubt the credibility of the OPCW's alleged report in this instance. YMMD

Would note with amusement French President Macron's recent discovery of facts about CW in Syria. Seems this epiphany happened during one of Macron's wet dreams ignited by the strong manly pheromones of KSA's dashingly clown princeling while they shared an €18 billion line of business nose candy. That alone should bring down the Republic about Macron's ears. France may have had the first virtual Presidency anywhere in the experience of the species.

Whilst at it. Has anyone considered the possibility that no legal order exists that places U.S. troops on Syrian soil without Syrian consent? This would place a bullseye anywhere a U.S. flag is shown anywhere in Syrian frontiers. U.S. troops should seriously consider the advisability of following illegal orders, they have a basic right not to obey those orders. In another illegal U.S. war, the troops rebelled, many times against leadership following illegal orders that put the troops in danger, a.k.a. fragging, so it has been reported. Not only are U.S. troops in Syria illegally, they are exposing themselves to injury, they are also exposing themselves to a failure of the government to fulfil all promises to provide aid. Ask any Vietnam Vet sustaining injury just how accommodating Veterans care has been. Do Syrian troops feel lucky? But be aware, whatever decision arrived at will bear immense personal cost, either way the decision may go, it is being able to live with one's experience, or not. Such an unenviable a prospect to be faced.

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Apr 13 2018 9:47 utc | 80

ACLOS Talk page

Posted by: NS | Apr 13 2018 10:05 utc | 81

The British government writes a letter letter to NATO (pdf) explaining the reasoning behind its accusations against Russia. I find completely unconvincing. It is build on "may", "could", "probably", "likely" and other caveats.

In the end it is about motive and the assumed motive does not make sense at all:

"It is highly likely that the Russian intelligence services view at least some of its defectors as legitimate targets of assassination."
That might be the case but only for people who run away and want to hadnover their knowledge to another country. Skripal was caught, went into jail and was years later exchanged. What he knew is long past. There is no reason for Russia to kill him. None at all. There are very good reasons not to kill anyone who has been released in a spy swap. Skripal lived 8 years in the open with no harm done to him.

Posted by: b | Apr 13 2018 12:32 utc | 82

Russian response to the kidnapping and imprisonment of one of its citizens is remarkably lackluster. telescope 61 - and Scotch 67:

I had the same thought - was quite surprised. Particularly as there are plenty of precedents, agreements, conventions, etc. to invoke to obtain access to Yulia and Sergei, and all moves in that direction would be agnostic as to the precise cause and suspected or possible agent of their poisoning. Why hold back? Additonally, I would hope that the Russians are investigating from their end (the fiancé, the hateful future mother-in-law, etc.) - maybe they are but they haven’t said so, saying so would cost nothing. Perhaps they have a handle on the some of the “unknowns”, and prefer to hope to see May and Bojo hoist on their own petard. I don’t know. Their PR concerning this affair is VERY poor.

BM 57. Seductive, I admit! Contra:

1) The Skirpals were expected to die. (Many got the impression that they had died in view of the dire attack! Including me, it was only when I went on the intertubes..) Them dying was the best outcome for UK-gvmt. Didn’t pan out.

2) Perpetrating some pretend ‘attack’ or ‘hoax’ or false flag to heap opprobium on Russia/Putin is more easily accomplished in a myriad of ways, anyone can think of 10 ideas better than this story, which smelled fishy (sic) from the start, and hasn’t, to say the least, turned out well for May.

UK Gvmt. opportunistically jumped on a narrative off their own bat with the ‘mysterious substance idea’ - is possible that this poisoning was very opaque, samples discussed, etc. etc. Now that Yulia can speak all they can do is desperately keep a lid on whatever she has to say (it would be contradictory with their narrative) and try to ‘manage’ the future. They can’t kill her or Sergei now.

Posted by: Noirette | Apr 13 2018 12:51 utc | 83

Perhaps Yulia herself was the one doing the poisoning, it looks strange that she visit her father and there is a poisoning incident when she arrives.

Posted by: Anon | Apr 13 2018 13:04 utc | 84

Thank you for really important information today.
Almasdarnews has some very interesting reports today too.

Posted by: K | Apr 13 2018 14:16 utc | 85

Posted by: b | Apr 13, 2018 8:32:30 AM | 82

There are two explanations for the door knob stuff, one assuming an attacker attaching the poison during the night, another, one of the Skripals touching it before washing his/her hands.

If it was an outside attacker it would have been a fairly random act as that person could not have been sure who would touch this door know - who would be first visitor?

They have now removed the path to the door looking for poison there

There is also the question why they seperated the Skripals to question them, blocking them from discussing the case between each other.

Posted by: Anon | Apr 13, 2018 9:04:24 AM | 84

Or the other way round. If that is true one of them would have made a terrible mistake. It is unlikely anyone would chose a method that leaves the victim walking around for hours.

Washing hands after touching the stuff would also explain why it was this ineffective.

It is still possible "Novichok" is simply a pesticide.

Posted by: somebody | Apr 13 2018 15:33 utc | 86

Chapter and verse from the Russian Embassy in London, a very long and comprehensive document, revealing UK comments for the first time.

Posted by: JohninMK | Apr 13 2018 18:02 utc | 87

Having reworked and extended my piece Novichok: Russia's Antidote to Seafood Poisoning I am more inclined than before to believe it possible that the Skripals were treated with Novichok as an antidote to botulinum toxin, it being the case that the one nerve agent, because of a difference in mode of action, could be an effective antidote to the other nerve agent, as I explain in the piece linked above.

To be credible, the theory must presume orchestration of the entire sequence of events. Thus, the botulinum toxin must have been deliberately administered as a sub-lethal dose in the seafood lunch that the Skripals consumed several hours before they were taken ill. (Although botulinum toxin can occur in seafood, it does not occur in fresh seafood — as opposed to canned food, since Clostridium botulinum only produces the toxin under anoxic conditions.)

But if the affair was orchestrated, the Skripals were surely participants rather than victims in the operation, a plausible assumption since Sergei Skripal is known to have worked for MI6 and may have resumed his service to them on release from Russian gaol.

So how was it worked?

I suggest that there was a small dose of botulinum toxin added to their seafood lunch, which caused illness several hours later, but not the vomiting and convulsions as reported by the doctor who attended on them and asked that her name not be released to the public. Rather the illness would have been manifest as the paralysis characteristic of botulism. If that assumption is correct, then we must assume that the attending, unidentified doctor who described the Skripals' symptons as those of poisoning by a nerve agent of the Novichok type, is an agent of MI6 and that she deliberately misled the media.

Once received at the Salisbury Trust Hospital, experts in nerve agent poisoning at the nearby British Chemical and Biological Weapons research establishment would have been consulted, which would have created the opportunity for them to supply the hospital with British-made Novichok as an antidote to botulinum toxin, the mechanism whereby one nerve agent counteracts another being described in my above-linked post. The identity of this antidote may well not have been disclosed to the Hospital staff.

After that, the Skripals may have been kept in a more or less comotose state with, perhaps repeated small doses of botulinum toxin, which would have necessitated continual infusions of Novichok to prevent paralysis and death by asphyxiation. That would explain why, weeks after the initial poisoning, blood samples of the "victims" still contained detectable quantities of Novichok. It would also explain why Yulia Skripal, though released from hospital is in UK police custody.

The objective now, if the above scenario is a more or less accurate representation of actual events, must be to keep the Skripals out of the hands of the Russian state, where they could be forced to disclose their complicity in a psyop. perpetrated to undermine the credibility and moral standing of the Russian government.

Posted by: CanSpeccy | Apr 13 2018 18:19 utc | 88

Posted by: trepidacious | Apr 13, 2018 4:25:12 AM | 7

"When they first arrived at hospital, the Scripals were treated for seafood poisoning."

That is not the case. The initial suspicion was fentanyl poisoning. This is a link to a Salisbury local media outlet publishing an article dated 4 March ie on the day.

This hypothesis lasted until the policeman turned up at the hospital suffering similar symptoms (early 5 March).

Posted by: Anonymous | Apr 13 2018 22:12 utc | 89

Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent, and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with an incapacitating toxin known as 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate or BZ, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, citing the results of the examination conducted by a Swiss chemical lab that worked with the samples that London handed over to the Organisation for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Posted by: imo | Apr 14 2018 15:00 utc | 91

Lavrov has fired a return barrage of government shattering proportions as #91 above refers

Posted by: Kaiama | Apr 14 2018 16:21 utc | 92

A bombshell: Lavrov: Swiss lab says ‘BZ toxin’ used in Salisbury, not produced in Russia, was in US & UK service

The substance used on Sergei Skripal was an agent called BZ, according to Swiss state Spiez lab, the Russian foreign minister said. The toxin was never produced in Russia, but was in service in the US, UK, and other NATO states.

Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent, and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with an incapacitating toxin known as 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate or BZ, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, citing the results of the examination conducted by a Swiss chemical lab that worked with the samples that London handed over to the Organisation for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
The Russian foreign minister said that London refused to answer dozens of “very specific” questions asked by Moscow about the Salisbury case, as well as to provide any substantial evidence that could shed light on the incident. Instead, the UK accused Russia of failing to answer its own questions, he said, adding that, in fact, London did not ask any questions but wanted Moscow to admit that it was responsible for the delivery of the chemical agent to the UK.
Moscow believes that the entire Skripal case lacks transparency and that the UK is in fact not interested in an independent inquiry. "We get the impression that the British government is deliberately pursuing the policy of destroying all possible evidence, classifying all remaining materials and making a transparent investigation impossible," the Russian ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, said during a press conference on Friday.

Posted by: b | Apr 14 2018 18:15 utc | 93

BZ is an incapacitating psycho agent like LSD. The U.S. developed it as a (mostly non deadly) chemical weapon.


News, Background and Comment on Chemical and Biological Weapons Issues
Quarterly Journal of the Harvard Sussex Program on CBW Armament and Arms Limitation May 2006


Posted by: b | Apr 14 2018 18:24 utc | 94

BZ would also fit the description of the chemical as described in the UK court hearing over OPCW blood tests.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Apr 14 2018 18:36 utc | 95

BZ is an AChE inhibitor though not considered (or classed as?) a nerve agent.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Apr 14 2018 18:38 utc | 96

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