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Porton Down unable to link ‘novichok’ to Russia

The head of the British laboratory of Porton Down, Gary Aitkenhead, said that scientists were unable to determine whether the country of origin of the nerve agent used to poison the Skripals, is Russia.

Published: April 4, 2018, 8:30 am

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    The Chief Scientist of the site of the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) – known for over 100 years as one of the UK’s most secretive installations, gave a press interview on Sky News on the Skripal affair.

    He insisted that, while the experts had identified the agent as A-234, they had “not identified the precise source” of the “novichok”.

    This was reported against the backdrop of Teresa May’s diplomatic war with Russia. May has said that it was “highly likely” that Russia was responsible. Her remarks prompted the US State Department to claim “there is no other possible explanation”.

    Aitkenhead stressed that “we could not define its exact source, but we provided scientific information on the agent to the government, who then used a number of other sources to draw conclusions”.

    The poisoning of the Skripals occurred on March 4, 2018 in the British city of Salisbury. London accused Moscow of attacking the state and sent 23 Russian diplomats packing. The UK example of expelling Russian diplomats, was followed by members of NATO countries with the exception of Austria.

    The US kicked out no less than 60 Russian diplomats. Russia has denied the accusations and mirrored the expulsion of foreign diplomats.

    It is still not known how long the “novichok” poison would take from contact to show an effect. According to British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson “novichocks” are “ten times more powerful” than other agents.

    If it really was an extreme military grade nerve agent, it seems to have been comparatively ineffective.

    Earlier, Johnson had told Germany’s state broadcaster that scientists from the Porton Down laboratory were “categorical” about the Russian origin of the substance used in the alleged nerve attack.

    Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s biographer, Alex Nunns called out Johnson for spreading lies and said: “Surely this is a resignation issue for Johnson, as the UK’s chief diplomat, on a matter so serious.”

    According to a former British ambassador, Craig Murray, another Porton Down scientist, Dr David Kelly, told the truth to a journalist about the non-existant WMD’s in Iraq “and met an extremely suspicious death as a result”.

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