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Sally Davis (Wikipedia); Hazmat routine

Pressure increases on Britain to explain strange ‘Novichok’ claims

Britain needs to show proof that Russia was behind the poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in England, the German government’s coordinator for Russia told German broadcaster ARD on Thursday.

Published: April 6, 2018, 8:10 am

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    Gernot Erler said pressure was rising on Prime Minister Theresa May’s government after Britain’s military research laboratory at Porton Down revealed on Tuesday that it could not pin the manufacture of the nerve agent on Russia, Reuters reported.

    “That contradicts what we had previously heard from British politicians and will certainly raise the pressure on Britain to show further proof that the traces plausibly point to Moscow,” Erler said.

    Armin Laschert, an ally of Chancellor Merkel, also questioned the British government. “If you force almost all NATO countries into solidarity, then should you not have hard evidence? You may feel about Russia as you like, but I have learned a different way of dealing with states in the study of international law,” Laschert said.

    Laschert, the Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous state of Germany, also serves as one of five deputy chairmen of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) and is head of the party in his home state.

    The British claims against Russia are so serious, that the UK now faces the loss of trust internationally. Unless the UK government comes up with a very plausible story with some hard evidence, European officials will be wary of continuing their support. Holding up a vial at the UN filled with fictitious WMD powder will not be enough this time.

    David Collum, Professor of Organo-Chemistry at Cornell University, has stated that his senior students could manufacture the nerve agent in question.

    The state and corporate media has not asked Prof. Collum nor any of the Professors of Organic Chemistry in the UK about the nerve agent, says former UK ambassador Craig Murray. “There simply is no basic investigative journalism happening around this case,” he added.

    The Daily Mirror has meanwhile quoted a “security source” claiming that “Russia’s tradecraft manual” contains instructions on how to “poison door handles”. The source says that this is “strong proof that in the last ten years Russia has researched methods to apply poisons”.

    But some simple questions arise from this latest “proof” that Russia did it. If the Skripals were poisoned by their doorknob, the rain could have washed the poison away, as it had been raining heavily in Salisbury that day, and indeed had been for some time.

    Dame Sally Davis, Chief Medical officer for England, had called for “rigorous scientific analysis” of the substance used on the Skripals, with the government advising those who may have been in contact with the “novichok” to wash their clothes and wipe surfaces with warm water and wet wipes. Suspect locations were hosed down by the fire brigade, suggesting that the nerve agent would not have been effective on the door knob in heavy rain at all.

    Theresa May had told the international community that this nerve agent used on the Skripals – now apparently on the mend – was up to ten times more powerful than VX, the Porton Down developed nerve agent that killed the North Korean leader’s brother in 15 minutes. The second glaring problem with the British narrative, is that the Novichok family of nerve agents are instant acting. Why did it then take hours from the alleged door knob contact to harm the two?

    The British claims are simply not remotely credible. Nerve agents, especially “military grade nerve agents”, were designed as deadly battlefield weapons. They do not leave opponents in a healthy state for hours on end after contact.

    There is moreover no description in the scientific literature of a nerve agent acting on an extraordinary time lapse. The Scientific American describes the workings of nerve agents quite succinctly:

    Unlike traditional poisons, nerve agents don’t need to be added to food and drink to be effective. They are quite volatile, colourless liquids (except VX, said to resemble engine oil). The concentration in the vapour at room temperature is lethal. The symptoms of poisoning come on quickly, and include chest tightening, difficulty in breathing, and very likely asphyxiation. Associated symptoms include vomiting and massive incontinence. Victims of the Tokyo subway attack were reported to be bringing up blood. Kim Jong-nam died in less than 20 minutes. Eventually, you die either through asphyxiation or cardiac arrest.

    Another bizarre twist in the Skripal tale came from a transcript a relative, Viktoria Skripal has provided of what she claims is a telephone conversation she has had with Yulia Skripal, who is currently in Salisbury hospital recovering from the nerve agent attack.

    “Everything is ok. He [Sergei Skripal] is resting now, having a nap. Everyone’s health is fine, there are no irreparable things. I will be discharged soon. Everything is ok,” Yulia tells her relative.

    This news of Skripal’s complete recovery comes despite the fact that he was allegedly subjected to a “military grade” chemical attack for which Porton Down’s chief executive Gary Aitkenhead has said there is no antidote.

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