Echoing findings by UK government scientist Gary Aitkenhead, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said Thursday that its investigators had “confirmed the findings of the UK relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury”
Effectively the lab confirmed that the military grade nerve agent used to poison Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal during an attack which reportedly took place at a public shopping center was, in fact, Novichok – a nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union, even if the OPCW did not explicitly name it. But crucially, like the scientists at Porton Down, the OPCW was unable to identify the origins of the nerve agent, per the Associated Press.
The news is the latest hit to the UK government’s “official” narrative that Russia masterminded the attack on the Skripals without a shadow of a doubt. UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson was adamant that the government had incontrovertible evidence that Russia masterminded the attack – most likely with the explicit approval of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Johnson had even threatened to pull the UK from the World Cup in retaliation. Ultimately, the UK government’s accusations led to more than 25 countries expelling one or more Russian diplomat, with Russia retaliating in kind.
This despite the UK Foreign Office backpedaling in the weeks after the escalation, going so far as to deny that it had ever claimed that the nerve agent used on the Skripals had come from Russia – and even deleting a tweet where it claimed the Novichok nerve agent had been produced in Russia.
Now, it appears the OPCW has come to the same conclusion as Aitkenhead & Co., who had reportedly faced significant pressure to confirm the origins of the agent used in the attack – a pressure they resented.
The international chemical weapons watchdog has confirmed Britain’s finding that a former spy and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent.
The report Thursday says Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons investigators “confirm the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury.”
It says the chemical was “of high purity.” The summary does not name Novichok – the name that was previously given by British Prime Minister Theresa May – but says the details of the toxin are in the full classified report.
It does not identify the source.
The tests were carried out by four independent laboratories affiliated with OPCW and samples were transported under a “full chain of custody”, according to the report.
According to Sky News, tests carried out by experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) showed the ner ve agent was found in environmental samples collected in Salisbury.Blood tests also revealed that the chemical was found in blood samples taken from the Skripals and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, the police officer who first attended the scene.
Still, Johnson didn’t hesitate to call the results “conclusive”.
“There can be no doubt what was used and there remains no alternative explanation about who was responsible – only Russia has the means, motive and record.” Or, anyone else with an organic chemistry lab for that matter.
“We will now work tirelessly with our partners to help stamp out the grotesque use of weapons of this kind and we have called a session of the OPCW executive council next Wednesday to discuss next steps,” the UK foreign secretary added. “The Kremlin must give answers.”
We doubt the Kremlin, which is about to engage in a hot war with the US in Syria, will care to give answers.