Russian Ambassador to UK Alexander Yakovenko said that the British press continues to present new versions of Skripal's attempted murder, but the UK government has not officially commented on these many new theories.
This current climate surrounding the attempt, the ambassador told journalists, is an example of “very serious playing with public opinion”.
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) however has issued one statement to refute a the revelation by Craig Murray from well-placed FCO sources that the British government continually re-uses the phrase “of a type developed by Russia” because its own scientists refused government pressure to say the nerve agent was made by Russia.
The official British Government statement reads:
“We have no idea what Mr Murray is referring to. The Prime Minister told MP’s on Monday that world leading experts at Porton Down had positively identified this chemical agent. It is clear that it is a military grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia. None of that is in any doubt”.
Murray has called it “the most hilarious fail in the history of refutation” since it only repeats the meaningless phrase.
The BBC interviewed Murray on Radio 5. “No-one doubts that the Russians had the idea of making these things first, and worked on developing the idea. It has always been doubted up till now that they really succeeded. The Iranians succeeded under OPCW supervision some time ago and the chemical formulae were published to the whole world twenty years ago. So many states could have done it. The ‘of a type developed by Russia’ thing means nothing, undoubtedly,” he said.
In late 2016, Iranian scientists set out to study whether novichoks really could be produced from commercially available ingredients and succeeded in synthesising a number of these nerve agents. Iran did this in full cooperation with the OPCW and immediately reported the results to the OPCW so they could be added to the chemical weapons database.
“This makes complete nonsense of the Theresa May’s ‘of a type developed by Russia’ line, used to parliament and the UN Security Council. This explains why Porton Down have refused to cave in to governmental pressure to say the nerve agent was Russian. If Iran can make a novichok, so can a significant number of states,” Murray explained on his blog.
“While Iran acted absolutely responsibly in cooperating with the OPCW, there are a handful of rogue states operating outwith the rule of international law, like Israel and North Korea, which refuse to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention, join the OPCW or destroy their chemical weapons stocks. Russia has cooperated in the OPCW,” he added.
In the wake of Murray’s latest remarks, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Statement issued a sensational new claim:
The Foreign Secretary revealed this morning that we have information indicating that within the last decade, Russia has investigated ways of delivering nerve agents likely for assassination. And part of this programme has involved producing and stockpiling quantities of novichok. This is a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Murray dismissed the sensational claim as more lies. “If the UK was in possession of intelligence about a secret Russian chemical weapons programme, it was not under a legal obligation to tell [BBC’s political editor] Andrew Marr, but it was under a legal obligation to tell the OPCW,” says Murray.