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Spiez Laboratory, the Skripal Case, and the OPCW

Tomorrow, April 18, the Organisation for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will hold a meeting in its headquarters in the Hague, at which, judging by the information attached to a recent tweet by the Spiez Laboratory, the Skripals case will be discussed.

The meeting will be convened at 10:00 on Wednesday, 18 April 2018 in the Ieper Room of the OPCW Headquarters building (Johan de Wittlaan 32, The Hague).

In the immediate run-up to this event, we’d like to remind our readers that on April 14, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov revealed publicly that, “according to Swiss state Spiez lab” and contrary to British government’s claims that the Skripals were poisoned by a military grade Novichok-like nerve agent, the “substance used on Sergei Skripal was an agent called BZ”.  As reported by RT,

The Swiss center sent the results to the OPCW. However, the UN chemical watchdog limited itself only to confirming the formula of the substance used to poison the Skripals in its final report without mentioning anything about the other facts presented in the Swiss document, the Russian foreign minister added. He went on to say that Moscow would ask the OPCW about its decision to not include any other information provided by the Swiss in its report.

Lavrov said that the Swiss center that assessed the samples is actually the Spiez Laboratory. This facility is a Swiss state research center controlled by the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection and, ultimately, by the country’s defense minister. The lab is also an internationally recognized center of excellence in the field of the nuclear, biological, and chemical protection and is one of the five centers permanently authorized by the OPCW.

The same day, April 14, the Spiez Laboratory itself reacted to Lavrov’s statement with the following tweet:

spiez lab tweet statement Screenshot_2018-04-16_19-09-17

Notice that in its tweet, the Spiez Lab neither confirms nor denies Lavrov’s statement explicitly, following a practice that usually amounts to an indirect confirmation of a piece of information the source cannot or does not wish to confirm directly.  Instead, either because of its contractual confidentiality obligations with the OPCW or on orders from the Swiss ministry of defense which oversees its work, Spiez Lab refers to the OPCW itself as the only body who can so much as “comment” on the claim, which it more neutrally terms an assertion, made by Russia’s foreign minister.   In the next breath, however, its tweet rather disingenuously refers us back to its own public statement of two weeks ago: “We have no doubt that Porton Down has identified Novichok.”

Let’s consider that particular sentence for a moment.  To begin with, Porton Down did not identify Novichok, as the Spiez Lab tweet claims, but a military grade nerve agent of the Novichok type, a distinction a laboratory of the type and caliber of the Spiez Lab must surely be very well aware of.  As Porton Down’s own deposition at the High Court hearing on March 22 shows,

Porton Down deposition at High Court 1 Screenshot_2018-04-17_16-00-42

Chemistry World also noted on April 12 that OPCW

has essentially confirmed the findings of UK government scientists, saying a ‘Novichok-type’ nerve agent was used, but has not released any specific detail on the identity or structure of the compound.

Secondly, the tweet’s slightly inaccurate reference to the findings of Porton Down scientists is itself a blatant act of diversion from the actual topic at hand: the detailed findings of the Swiss Lab itself.  More intriguingly, however, if the latter is certain that Porton Down’s analysis is reliable and that the blood samples it analysed did contain traces of a military grade Novichok-type nerve agent, two questions immediately arise:

  1. How could two people survive exposure to a military grade nerve agent which was not identified for over a week after their exposure to it and for which the victims could be given no proper antidote, if any such actually exists?
  2. Is the Spiez Lab, with its reference to Porton Down results, inadvertently implying that the samples it was given differ markedly from the materials previously analysed by Porton Down, the only scenario (barring deception on the part of Porton Down) that could realistically account for the different results of the two analyses?

Can the answer to the second question be yes?

We do know that on March 22, UK’s  High Court issued a judgment permitting OPCW to obtain fresh samples of Skripals’ blood which it could analyse independently of Porton Down.  In other words, information already in the public domain suggests strongly that the materials analysed by Porton Down and Spiez Lab contain different nerve agent substances, explained most likely by the fact that the latter was supplied with a set of blood samples taken after March 22, i.e. a different set of samples from the ones analysed by Porton Down.  I have to use the phrase “most likely” here as the only alternative to this explanation is that Porton Down deceived the public by issuing only selective results of its own findings.

Here’s how the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) describes the effects of BZ as a psychotomimetic agent:

This group of agents usually includes substances which, when administered in low doses (<10 mg) cause conditions similar to psychotic disorders or other symptoms emanating from the central nervous system (loss of feeling, paralysis, rigidity, etc.). The effects are transitory and cause inability to make decisions and incapacitation. Several such substances may be used to achieve these objectives and only a few examples are given here.

During the 1950’s, studies were made of substances such as glycolic acid esters (glycolates). Particular interest was paid to 3-quinuclidinylbenzilate, BZ. The effects of this group of substances are similar to those caused by atropine. BZ causes poisoning at doses of 0.5-5 mg. Peripheral symptoms such as distended pupils, deteriorated short-distance vision, dry mouth and palpitations occur after about 30 minutes.

A serious effect of poisoning with BZ, as also with other atropine-like substances, is an increased body temperature. Deterioration in the level of consciousness, hallucinations and coma occur subsequently. Incapacitating after-effects may remain 1-3 weeks after the poisoning. Since the effect of glycolates was found to be difficult to predict, interest in continued research into this type of substance gradually decreased.

In a paper on the “Psychiatric Oppression of African Americans” produced by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, but no longer available online, BZ is also linked to experimentation on African American citizens of the U.S.:

At the National Institute of Mental Health Addiction Research Center in Kentucky in the mid-1950s, drug-addicted African Americans were given LSD, with seven of them kept hallucinating for 77 consecutive days. At this same center, healthy African American men were still being used as test subjects almost 10 years later, this time for an experimental drug, BZ — 100 times more powerful than LSD.  [cited in “The Story of the Drug BZ“]

Pressed by the public to address directly Lavrov’s claim, Spiez Lab has repeatedly refused to either confirm or deny that it had found BZ nerve agent in the Skripal blood samples.

Spiez Lab exchange with Winble Screenshot_2018-04-16_19-10-31

The OPCW has, to date, made no comment and issued no rebuttal of Lavrov’s assertion concerning the full findings of Spiez Laboratory and the presence of BZ and its precursors in the March 23 blood samples taken from Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

If Lavrov’s statement accurately reflects the actual findings of the Spiez Laboratory, and if the Skirpals were indeed given BZ in some form, this would account for both the state in which they were discovered on March 4, one of them unconscious and the other spaced out on a bench in Salisbury, and for the length of time Sergei and Yulia Skripal were comatose.  It would also further explain Yulia Skripal’s sense of disorientation, which she spoke about in the statement issued on her behalf by the Metropolitan Police on April 5.

While Spiez Lab advises the public to wait for a new statement by the OPCW following its meeting tomorrow, some public pressure may need to be brought on the OPCW itself to immediately release ALL the information it has from ALL the laboratories it has used in the Skripal case.  Without such public pressure — and it is certainly not coming from any Western MSM — the OPCW may again do what it did on April 4, when by a vote of 15 to 6, with 17 members abstaining, it rejected Russia’s proposal for “a new, joint investigation” of the Skripal case.

Here’s the composition of OPCW’s Executive Council for May 12, 2017-May 11, 2018:

Chairperson: H.E. Ambassador Sheikh Mohammed BELAL Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the OPCW. View list of previous chairpersons.

Vice-Chairs: Permanent Representatives of Chile (GRULAC), Spain (WEOG), Sudan (Africa) and Slovakia (EEG)

Members by region:
Africa: Algeria (2018), Cameroon (2019), Ghana (2018), Kenya (2019), Libya (2018), Morocco (2019), Senegal (2019), South Africa (2018), Sudan (2019).

Asia: Bangladesh (2018), China (2019), India (2019), Iran (Islamic Republic of) (2018), Japan (2019), Pakistan (2018), Republic of Korea (2019), Saudi Arabia (2019), Viet Nam (2018).

Eastern Europe: Azerbaijan (2019) Estonia (2019), Poland (2018), Russian Federation (2018) Slovakia (2018).

Latin America and the Caribbean: Argentina (2019), Brazil (2019), Chile (2018), Colombia (2019), Guatemala (2018), Mexico (2019), Panama (2018), Peru (2018).

Western European and Other States: Australia (2018), Belgium (2018), France (2019), Germany (2019), Italy (2019), Spain (2018), Sweden (2018), Switzerland (2018), United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (2019), United States of America (2019).

OPCW’s headquarters are located at
Johan de Wittlaan 32
2517 JR – The Hague
The Netherlands

Their phone and fax numbers are:
tel: +31 70 416 3300
fax: +31 70 306 3535


  1. Hot laddy says

    The OPCW has, to date, made no comment and issued no rebuttal of Lavrov’s assertion concerning the full findings of Spiez Laboratory and the presence of BZ and its precursors in the March 23 blood samples taken from Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

    This is a bare faced lie.

    The OPCW have refuted it totally.

    • Hot laddy says

      Referring to Lavrov’s claims about the discovery of BZ, Marc-Michael Blum, the head of the OPCW laboratory, told the meeting: “The labs were able to confirm the identity of the chemical by applying existing, well-established procedures. There was no other chemical that was identified by the labs.

      The precursor of BZ that is referred to in the public statements, commonly known as 3Q, was contained in the control sample prepared by the OPCW lab in accordance with the existing quality control procedures. Otherwise it has nothing to do with the samples collected by the OPCW team in Salisbury.”

      The Guardian, your sister site (!).

      • Why don’t you quote the rest of the OPCW document, the bits where they whine about trust and faith and where they demand to be taken on trust while refusing to release any of the original laboratory results?


        We see the sort of deception you’ve just tried to pull — by selective quotation and selective presentation of facts — in our MSM all the time. We don’t approve of it and won’t tolerate it here on our site.

        • Hercule says

          The statement delivered by the Director-General of the OPC on 18 April 2018 is clear: “The Labs were able to confirm the identity of the chemical by applying existing, well-established procedures. There was no other chemical that was identified by the Labs. The precursor of BZ that is referred to in the public statements, commonly known as 3Q, was contained in the control sample prepared by the OPCW Lab in accordance with the existing quality control procedures. Otherwise it has nothing to do with the samples collected by the OPCW Team in Salisbury. This chemical was reported back to the OPCW by the two designated labs and the findings are duly reflected in the report.”

          This reflects the standard protocol used for identifying chemical warfare agents. Laboratories use specific controls for each chemical class. In the case of 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate (BZ) the control is 3-Quinuclidinol (3Q) which is both a precursor and breakdown product of BZ.

          No evidence has been forthcoming for Lavrov’s assertion that BZ was detected in the samples from Salisbury. The reason is simple. His claim is false. Lavrov is deliberately trying to sow confusion by blurring the distinction between samples from the site and controls that form part of the analytical procedure.

          Vaska, your article cites Lavrov’s claim that “the samples from the Salisbury incident contained 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate”. That is not true. Please issue a correction. Facts really are sacred.

    • Hot laddy says

      To be fair, the article does predate the OPCW meeting last Thursday.


  2. Published on 20 Apr 2018

    George Galloway starts his Friday night show with another classic monologue. Unhappy with the Windrush news and the continuing to develop Salisbury nerve agent story, watch and enjoy as George delivers in the only way he knows how, on the Mother of All Talk Shows.

    And once again… This happened on the Salisbury Plain at the time of the Skripal affair. A coincidence? I really don’t think so:


    • Hot laddy says

      What’s your point about the drill?

      That the Skripals were accidentally infected? But no one else?

      Mighty handy that a traitor to Russia was knobbled, eh?

      These comments are hilarious.

      Who do you think would want to harm a traitor to Russia, who didn’t even serve his full sentence of hard labour (that a soft sentance, decreed under Medvedev, which Putin didn’t seem to happy with). See video of Putin in 2010.

      • My point obviously flew waaaay above your head, so there’s no reason to try to explain it to you because either you’re unable or unwilling to understand

  3. Streamed live 13 hours ago

    Russian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko is holding a press conference in London. The press briefing, followed by a Q&A, is expected to focus on the situation in Syria, cyber security, and the Skripal poisoning case.

  4. Hercule says

    Lavrov said that “Swiss Spiez Lab (an OPC authorised centre) determined that the samples from the Salisbury incident contained 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate … as well as high concentration of A-234 in its original form.” Has Lavrov produced evidence to support this assertion? If so can someone please tell us what that evidence is.

    • Peter says

      Please check official statement of OPCW. They say that samples with BZ were so called control samples. So, Lavrov did not invent anything.

  5. Old Pepper says

    Dear ladies and gentlemen!
    Lifes of Skripals now already not in theatric staging, but realistically are under threat.
    According to leaks from the UK Cabinet meeting, after exposing provocations with “poisoning” of Skripals and “chemical attack” in the Duma, her Majesty’s government seriously discussed the elimination of Skripals.
    This should be the next step of the information war against Russian with tears of “all western world” on the theme of “heroic medical efforts were in vain, and our worst warnings about the irreparable harm caused to organisms Skripals by those monsters Russian, unfortunately came true”.
    The UK governement decision on liquidation of Skripals is still pending.
    Only a broad media campaign can save these people, who have become hostages of the British government, for whom human life has never cost anything.
    It is necessary to demand that journalists be allowed to meet and talk with Skripals. We should also force the British government to hold independent of the authorities examination of the health status of Skripals in detail.

  6. passerby says

    The official UK story is no longer credible. We may never know what the truth is, but we know the official UK storyline is not true. This does not necessarily mean it’s a lie; it could just as well be incompetence.

    • Hot boy, Brad Pitte says

      There is no uk ‘story’ as you put it.

      The case is ongoing and Russia is prime suspect.

      • Peter says

        Being suspect does not mean anything. Such an incident cannot be treated by pointing to “suspect”. SO far, they did not move single centimeter forward from pointing to “suspect”. That is at least irresponsible behaviour of the UK Government.

  7. Peter says

    If you see patent https://patents.google.com/patent/US9200877 and in its pdf file with detailed description on page 13 you will see option to include Novichok in the bullet that can injur target and by having posionous substance it can inflict additional injury or death to target.
    The patent is filed on May 02, 2012 and accepted as patent on December 01, 2015.
    These facts pose several serious questions on Skripal poisoning incident.

    • Colin Davis says

      Is the point that Novichok was presumed available in the USA in 2012?

      That alone raises “serious questions” indeed. After all that has happened, I hesitate about rushing to judgement, but the UK government story would seem to depend on Russia being by far the most likely source of Novichok. (Unless, I suppose, the patent-holder aimed to sell those bullets to the Russians.)

      • Peter says

        There is no source of Novichok. Since the US Army has had access to substance, machines, technology they could produce it as well in their own lab. Comparing scientific literature we can say that more than 20 countries could produce it including the UK.

      • Hot laddy says

        No, it doesn’t.

        Russia could have done it with foreign Novichok, could it not?

        I thought you said anyone could make it?

        That doesn’t mean Russia didn’t do it.

        The prime evidence is Putin saying traitors will have short lives, and have to hide, not the source of the Novichok.

        I think you will find the trail will stop at Moscow anyway. See my post to Peter above.

        • Peter says

          Your argumentation ins infantile. The international relationships are not based on those things. MI6 and similar agencies could not allow in any way that anyone approaches Skripal’s house or street without being noticed and recorded. So far, no video surveillance details that anyone approached Skripal’s house to put poison. That is really strange and inexcusable mistake whoever was responsible for that.

          • Peter says

            I’d just like to point out that this Peter is not me. I’m the other Peter. As readers can see, we have different ID pictures. Maybe one or both of us needs to change pseudonyms?

            This said, Peter’s point is pertinent.

  8. Paul says

    If we assume, first, that the Russians are innocent of the Skripal nonsense but simply wrong about the veracity or authenticity of the Spiez lab leak, this would reflect very poorly, I think, on the competence of FM Lavrov and the Russian Foreign Ministry, the RF intelligence services and chemical weapons analysts, or, given Putin’s background in the KGB, Putin himself.

    The same withering evaluation could be made if we assume that they were deliberately misled-–indeed “punked” by a maliciously inaccurate leak.

    Given that either was always obviously a possibility, they could have played their cards more cagily, asking pointed questions of the OPCW about whether other substances such as BZ were found–without disclosing their source, potentially burning him or her, and putting Spiez into full damage-control mode.

    But to attempt to be fair, this may have been a resort of desperation, the home-court advantage here being overwhelming, even without reading actual ill intent into what appears to me to be a very strange interpretation of OPCW obligations. The confidentiality of the findings (setting aside an understandable policy of protecting the labs from public exposure) and the selective incompleteness of what is disclosed strike me as entirely bizarre. I mean, we can’t even name unequivocally what the substance was? And on what basis is the UK automatically the wronged party, and the accused the guilty party, for the purposes of investigation?

    What if Russia had demanded a challenge inspection of Porton Down right off the hop (which if the Russians had actually planned it, they might have been clever enough to have considered). Or at the very least Russia could have been the accusing party. A Russian citizen (or citizens) were attacked on British soil, by what looks like a chemical agent, with what would appear to be covering actions by the British state, etc.

    Honestly, though, if the OPCW handling of this case is a arbitrary and contorted as it seems to my inexpert eye, would Russia itself not be filing some sort of formal protest (already or soon, if they were hoping to wrangle it out of them tactically, or are playing with an eye to East Ghouta)? The OPCW seems blithely indifferent to the possibility that the stakes–or at least fall out–of this game may be an acceleration towards nuclear war.

    And if the OPCW is being as duplicitous as I suspect (based on recent form in Salisbury and in Syria last year), the Russians might very well believe the Salibury battle is lost, but may be hoping that the OPCW might throw them a bone in Ghouta…

    Given the UK’s control over the crime scene (a crime of some sort has doubtless been committed), over the media (as with the BBC partisans in the “Information war with Russia” as it’s been put), over the precise form of technical assistance they were able to insist on, the OPCW’s apparently arbitrary control over procedure and disclosures, Russia simply can’t win, and by now if not from the outset, knows this.

    Still, Russia’s handling of the “leaked” Spiez report is not a good look. If the goal was at least for the OPCW to discredit itself in the eyes of the world (or at least the chemical warfare and weapons interdiction communities), which may have been happening, the Spiez report was an own goal. Or what am I missing?

    At this point, though, still presuming Russia’s innocence, as one used to do with the accused, and feeling a little sad for them (and sadder still for us), I find myself trying to recall the details of the Dan Rather blockbuster disclosure of Dubya’s appalling National Guard service record.

    If I recall, Rather’s report was factually impeccable–every dereliction claimed on the record actually happened, but the physical report itself was a forgery. That is, a perfect or near-perfect forgery, entirely factually accurate, indistinguishable except in the smallest detail (say chemical composition of the paper), in ways Rather’s team could not be expected to have the means of detecting, for the authentic original, which documented these same derelictions.

    But Rather’s report, and its accusations against a sitting President, were now demonstrably based on a forgery. (I know, it was a simpler time, when fake accusations against a President were considered a bad thing.)

    And the substance of the report could now be summarily dismissed, as if it had become the task of journalists not to present evidence and claims offered in good faith as possibly true, in order to have the powerful answer to them, but now the standard morphs into a guarantee that every word is incontrovertible before it can be disclosed to the public.

    The most powerful investigative journalist in America destroyed by the intelligence agencies in a master stroke. Sometimes when I ask myself how the media became so servile, so fast, I wonder if they were broken by the Rather frame-up. An inflection point, at least.

    What journalist could ever again feel that they could stake their reputation on a document.

    It’s entirely possible that the leaked Spiez lab report is essentially correct in all its relevant details, but may have been altered just enough in some insignificant respect that the Spiez lab could claim that it does not conform to the format that they use (for a single line item or paragraph, for example).

    As with Rather’s blockbuster, once the authentic provenance of the document is discredited, the entirety of the (perhaps essentially accurate) BZ findings stands tainted, much as the samples themselves may have been. (Where, for example, BZ was added to the control samples, to match its presence in the test samples. All Spiez said was the former, and no one will ever force them to answer regarding the latter, now that the Spiez leak is seen as an embarrassing flop.)

    • Colin Davis says

      Someone on here suggested BZ could have an effect on A 234. So who would have dreamed of adding it to a sample to make a control sample?

      I’m no chemist. Does this make sense to those who are? I’d love to know.

      • Ex Pat Swede says

        I’m certainly not a chemist, but adding BZ to a sample to make a “control” is totally crazy and I can’t conceive of any reason why the OPCW would follow this bizarre procedure. If Lavrov’s information is correct (and the OPCW has NOT said that the information is false), then it follows to my mind at least that this MUST BE a false flag operation. It probably is anyway.

      • Hot boy, Brad Pitte says

        There are many control samples.

        Thé BZ sample was not also the A234 sample.

        One imagines…

        • Ex Pat Swede says

          How do you know how many control samples there are Hot lad? Do you have insider information into how an OPCW lab operates? No? Thought not. The most obvious explanation at this stage is that the Russians have been fed misleading information about the BZ in the samples to discredit them. However, the OPCW statement is odd in several different ways, not least because it only talks about chemical precursors of BZ, when Lavrov was talking about BZ itself in addition to the precursors. Lavrov also seems to imply (but doesn’t clearly state) that BZ, its precursors and A-234 were found in the same sample. Plus the presence of BZ makes perfect sense – it would for example explain why the Skripals survived.

    • padre says

      What I noticed in your comment first, is that you assume that Russians are stupid!

      • Paul 3 says

        Actually no, Padre, I don’t consider the Russian professionals stupid. Given the professionalism they tend to exhibit, I wrote the post to elicit alternative perspectives on what the Russian strategy is. If they look “stupid” it may simply mean that I’m missing something, which is what I noted. But it may also be that the home-court advantage–territorial control, media control, corruption of OPCW and Spiez lab–may simply be too great. The Russians may be displaying a bit of desperation, or are making mistakes. I must say I haven’t found them playing even a weak hand particularly well (as opposed to militarily and diplomatically elsewhere, where they seem bold, flexible, creative). Have they brought a single issue before the British courts, regarding violation of consular conventions? Have they lodged a formal complaint that the OPCW is violating its own procedures? Have they lodged a case at the Hague over serial violations of the UN charter in Syria? Anyway, I haven’t found their work on this particularly impressive, given how poorly I think the British have played with all the aces.

    • Baron says

      Whatever the OPCW or any other body controlled by the Americans (or one the Americans can put pressure on e.g. the Spiez lab) say is neither here or there. The only reliable piece of evidence of what happened in Salisbury is the Times letter from the consultant that treated them, the rest is noise, if not totally fake than certainly contaminated.

      The Skripals were poisoned by anything but Novitchok.

      • Hot laddy says

        “… no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only been ever been three patients with significant poisoning.”

        From letters The Times.

  9. Published on 18 Apr 2018

    “The formula for these agents are out in the world” says Annie Machon as Britain admits Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) did not confirm ‘essential evidence’ on origin of Skripal poison.

  10. Marcus says

    I posted a question on Sushi’s latest (very good) break down of the Skripal story, and Sushi kindly responded. I was a little unsure and asked for clarification on a few issues. I think perhaps others here might appreciate my questions and Sushi’s reply.

    I wrote:

    can I ask for a bit of clarification.

    1. UK originally said it was “novichok”

    2. then said “A234”.

    3. But novichok and A-234 are NOT synonyms.

    4. A-234 is a known agent and non-binary.

    5. novichok is still just a theoretical agent and BINARY.

    6. the Iranian synthesis was of A-234-type non-binary agent

    7. No one has ever synthesised a binary agent to date – that we know of.

    Are these seven points correct?

    Sushi replied:

    Yes, except for point 7.

    Binary CWA have been created. One of those is a binary version of VX created by the US.
    A binary version of VX was used in the assassination of the brother-in-law of the Korean head of state.

    The information on Soviet CWA programs is conflicting. Uglev claims no binary OP based weapons developed under the FOLIANT program. Myranazov claims binary OP based were developed with the first of those being being Novichok-5 which may or may not be an anlog of A-234.

    My sense is that Uglev is more credible than Myranazov.


  11. Hot lad says


    Senior figures from the global chemical weapons watchdog have flatly rejected Russian claims that the watchdog’s laboratories had found a western military chemical agent in the poison that incapacitated the Russian double agent Sergei Skripal.

    RT faces seven new investigations in aftermath of Salisbury poisoning
    Read more
    In a weekend claim widely picked up on social media, the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said that a Swiss laboratory used by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had discovered traces in the sample of the nerve agent BWZ and its precursors. The nerve agent is possessed by Nato countries, but not Russia.

    The Russian embassy in London said it was “highly likely” that BWZ had therefore been used in Salisbury, adding that the OPCW and the British had questions to answer.

    But at a meeting of the OPCW executive in The Hague, the Russian claim was refuted by OPCW officials, who said explained that BWZ had been used in the control sample, not the sample itself. It is also a breach of OPCW procedures to identify a laboratory involved in a test.

    The UK said Russia had been caught out in an attempt to mislead the international community, adding the OPCW report showed the world was facing “a clear case of a new family of toxic chemicals intended to kill”.

    • Hot lad says

      From today’s OPCW report:-

      As it was clearly shown in the detailed and technical presentation, we should not have an iota of doubt on the reliability of the system of the OPCW Designated Laboratories. The Labs were able to confirm the identity of the chemical by applying existing, well-established procedures. There was no other chemical that was identified by the Labs. The precursor of BZ that is referred to in the public statements, commonly known as 3Q, was contained in the control sample prepared by the OPCW Lab in accordance with the existing quality control procedures. Otherwise it has nothing to do with the samples collected by the OPCW Team in Salisbury. This chemical was reported back to the OPCW by the two designated labs and the findings are duly reflected in the report.


      edited by admin to add source link

      • Cherrycoke says

        Why did the control sample that Lavrov supposedly was mislead by, also contain “virgin” A234?

        Also, what is this about:

        “The Technical Assistance mission carried out by
        the Secretariat is over. However based on
        the outcome of this mission in relation to the id
        entity of the toxic chemical used in Salisbury,
        the Organisation will need to consider some
        follow up actions. I would like to inform the
        Council that I will soon
        seek the advice of the Scientific
        Advisory Board on the issue under
        discussion here today. Based on the SAB’s reco
        mmendations we may consider other steps.
        Meanwhile the Secretariat will also propose the in
        clusion of the toxic chemical identified in
        the TAV report in the OCAD.”


    • Paul 3 says

      Hot Lad is on fire! Is there a link where we can fill out the survey to tell the GCHQ how enthusiastic you’ve been?

  12. Hot lad says


    “Hot Lad” is “Brad Pitte” posting under a different name. Our policy with commenters who do this is to treat their comments as spam and delete them. We have deleted all the comments under this name.

    @“BradPitte/HotLad”: please select one ID, post observations that are informative or sourced and you will be welcome to continue contributing here.

    • Hot lad says


      I choose Hot lad

      Why don’t you allow posts in Russian?

      • Vera says

        They are very keen to claim they don’t speak Russian.

        The one you want to think about is “Catte” (aka “BlackCatte”). Don’t know about the others but she’s deffo a Kremlin agent. She speaks fluent Russian, and she reports directly to Putin. She could be a plant and the others are genuine, or Off-Guardian could be a Kremlin-funded operation.

        Ask her how well she knows Putin. She NEVER REPLIES!!!!

        • You’ve been posting here for a while, nothing but one or two-sentence comments about one of our editors. We frankly didn’t see any need to bother refuting the nonsense you were claiming. Now you are encouraging another potential troll.

          Here’s the deal. Post any evidence you have for your frankly ludicrous claims right here. Sources, documents, anything you have. Fail to do so, and you’ve made it clear you’re simply trolling and time-wasting.

          Up to you.

        • Peter says

          There are independent thinkers, scientists, experts here. We do not need May, Johnson or Putin to make conclusions on our behalf. Let us be free from narrow ideological comments. Some of us know a lot on chemistry, toxicology including various languages. However, many people like that do have right to question statements of May, Johnson etc. not because of ideological differences or similarities. We question because we know what is reality about some substances. Physics and chemistry behave beyond ideologies. If Mirzayanov says that only idiot can use A234 in humid conditions that we can be sure that he is not ideological supporter of Putin. He knows how A234 behaves in humid conditions and it is OK to question how substance can be found without inpurities 2 weeks after the accident.

          • Mulga Mumblebrain says

            Mirzayanov is CIA property, He pretends to be the President of the Tatarstan Republic in Exile, a CIA front designed to foment strife, hatred and separatism in Russia’s Tatarstan Republic. In other words-an utter sh…..

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Just delete the twit. Why give blatant disinformers a second chance?

  13. Pat says

    BZ is an antimuscarinic agent like atropine. Therefore, if it was present in the “poison mixture”, it protected CNS acetylcholine muscarinic receptors against the toxic action of a nerve agent like A-234. As a consequence, it exerted a prophylactic action that prevented irreversible brain damage. That could explain why the Skripals survived. In addition, no doubt that Salisbury MDs – working so close to DSTL – are very well trained in case of accidental exposure of DSTL personnels working daily with nerve agents. Thus, they knew how to treat such an acute poisoning.

    • The latter assertions don’t stand up to scrutiny.

      We know that, according to all the official sources on this, nothing was identified for over a week while the Skripals lay in a Salisbury hospital comatose.

      We also know that the initial “identification” — made more than a week after the Skripals were found sitting on that park bench — was of a military grade Novichok-type nerve agent.

      We now also know that, to the surprise of Spiez scientists, the blood samples taken by OPCW a full 3 weeks after Skripals were supposedly exposed to it, and analysed by Spiez Lab, contained Novichok in pure form, something nobody has so far even tried to explain.

      And we now have the more recent claim that the Skripals were poisoned with A-234, not Novichok (and the two are not synonymous), which contradicts the earlier claims.

      Finally, we have the public statement — a letter to the press — by a doctor from the hospital that took care of the Skripals that none of their patients had suffered poisoning.

      • A-234 is an organophosphate nerve agent. It was developed in the Soviet Union under the Foliant program, and is one of the group of compounds referred to as Novichok agents, that were revealed by Vil Mirzayanov.

        • Not a man of particularly reliable testimony. As RT points out, reporting on the latest BBC Comedy Hour interview with him,

          “Uglev goes on to tell Rosenberg of that one time he accidentally spilt Novichok all over his hand. You read that right – deadly, killer, monstrous Novichok all over someone’s hand. He seems fine now though. “My right hand got covered in nerve agent,” says perfectly healthy seeming Uglev, who appears to be suffering no side effects from one of the world’s most deadly toxins. “I put it in hydrochloric acid right away then washed it with a special alkaline solution with hydrogen peroxide. ”

          And here’s the second paragraph of the Wikipedia entry you cite:

          “According to a classified (secret) report by the US Army National Ground Intelligence Center in Military Intelligence Digest dated 24 January 1997,[6] the agent designated as A-232 and its ethyl analog A-234, developed under the Foliant program, “are as toxic as VX, as resistant to treatment as soman, and more difficult to detect and easier to manufacture than VX”. The binary versions of the agents reportedly uses acetonitrile and an organic phosphate “that can be disguised as a pesticide precursor.””

        • Hot boy, Brad Pitte says

          A234 is a type of Novichok, I understand

  14. rtj1211 says

    There would appear to be a lot of unanswered questions here:

    1) Was the ‘military grade agent’ an A-234/BZ combined concoction? This would indicate a need for sophisticated titration of the two agents to achieve the desired result, which might point to a bespoke weapons/behavioural control programme.

    I am not saying it was, I am saying it is a thesis to be considered….and would certainly not limit suspects to Russia……certain to include Uk, US and Israel amongst others….

    2) Can BZ and A-234 be separated and purified from a mixture in which both were present? Alternatively do antibody-based purifications and/or chromatographic techniques and/or spectrophotometric techniques exist to identify both in the same samples?

    3) Based on half lives of A-234 and BZ in blood and/or other bodily fluids, would the best estimate calculations of actual dose exposures be consistent with the three patients remaining alive after initial exposure?

    4) Based on half life of compounds applied to door handles, what are the purported amounts applied to the door handles likely to have been? Were concentrations consistent with patient contact with home door handle found on car steering wheels, external car door handles, door handles at Zizzis?

    Not being in receipt of key data, one can only ask that these questions be addressed by OPCW or others in receipt of all information available to OPCW…..

    • Hot lad (aka Brad Pitte) says

      The BZ thing is BS

      From today’s RT:-

      Samples of the BZ nerve agent were tested at the OPCW-accredited Swiss lab in the Skripal poisoning case, but only as part of control procedures, the chemical watchdog said, adding they otherwise had “nothing to do” with the case.
      Ahmet Uzumcu, the director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), made comments on Wednesday to the OPCW executive council. He and Marc-Michael Blum, the head of the technical assistance team that was deployed to the UK to assist in the high-profile case in Salisbury, delivered an update on the OPCW’s work related to the case.

      Sergei Lavrov промахнулся

      (edited by admin to clarify use of multiple IDs)

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says

        Ahmet Uzumcu., the former Turkish( one of the jihadists greatest supporters in Syria) Permanent Representative to NATO (heard of them?) March-Michael Blum, a Netherlands ie NATO apparatchik, straight from work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory where you are NOT employed unless the CIA decides you are totally ‘reliable’. The usual rogues’ gallery of Western stooges, whose ‘word’ in my opinion, is worth NOTHING.

  15. Grafter says

    OPCW ?…..Its NIST 9/11 all over again.

  16. xipeng says

    I found this article form the Neue Zürcher Zeitung two days ago.
    The core of the countering argument against Lavrov’s allegation is that it is OPCW procedure for external lab testing to provide the lab (i.e. the Spiez lab), besides the ‘real’ sample under investigation, also one or more control samples which could contain other substance, or substances mixed with the contentious substance. The testing lab in question doesn’t know which is the real sample under investigation.
    If someone here is familiar with OPCW testing procedures, I would appreciate their comments.

    If this NZZ argument is correct, Lavrov indeed slipped on a slippery slope. And it explains why Spiez lab abstains from commenting on their analysis results.
    But it still leaves open the fact the identified type of ‘military grade novichok’ could have been produced in many more countries than Russia

    • aldapooh says


      “As it was clearly shown in the detailed and technical presentation, we should not have an iota
      of doubt on the reliability of the system of the OPCW Designated Laboratories. The Labs
      were able to confirm the identity of the chemical by applying existing, well-established
      procedures. There was no other chemical that was identified by the Labs. The precursor of
      BZ that is referred to in the public statements, commonly known as 3Q, was contained in the
      control sample prepared by the OPCW Lab in accordance with the existing quality control
      procedures. Otherwise it has nothing to do with the samples collected by the OPCW Team in
      Salisbury. This chemical was reported back to the OPCW by the two designated labs and the
      findings are duly reflected in the report. “

    • Hot lad says

      You have completely misunderstood.

      There was never any BZ found. That is from confused Lavrov, as are all of the other daft assertions, such as why had the Novichok not degraded, and Novichok can’t be liquid.

      It’s all disinformation from Russia, I’m afraid.

      • Source please, a)for Lavrov’s alleged statement about “liquid form”, b) for the claim that no BZ was found. c) for the claim “novichoks” (which one?) don’t degrade.

        You’ve been reminded about this. Please comply.

    • Marcus says

      That sounds a bit odd to say the least. Why add a completely irrelevant compound as a “control”?

      • Why to add “an unrelated compound as control”? I know very little, but in another context, DNA/mRNA sequencing, poly-nucleotides are added to the suspension for calibration and quality control — we know exactly the concentration of the “spike”, and the procedure can inform about the ratio between the “spike” and other pieces floating in the soup-like sample.

        That said, I do not understand why “raw data”, chromatography spectra and whatever else was obtained, cannot be disclosed. At worst, it would reveal the type of equipment that was used in the labs — why they have to be anonymous is mysterious anyway. It is not like Spiez Laboratory will be targeted by assassins, or Russians will threaten to “take care” of their children (what was attributed to a certain John Bolton, a non-Russian).

  17. Jonny says

    Good Morning all, firstly, what an amazing site. Apart from a few trolls, all contributions show an amazing level of mindfulness of our current predicament, a great credit to all contributors!
    One other thing seems to go against the grain here, the scale of the Salisbury “clean up.” Apparently 8 sites are contaminated with a deadly substance, the scale of the clean up would suggest enough of the toxic agent has been spilled to kill half of Salisbury! Would it not have degraded naturally by now, and also, MSM is accusing Russia and Syria of cleaning up the questionable site in Syria, destroying evidence. This will be the defense if results suggest there was no chemical attack in Syria, or inconclusive results. Its ok for GB to tamper with sites but not Syria?
    The way the GB media is describing the incident or sensationalising it would suggest a tanker had spilled in Salisbury!

    Thanks again for highlighting the corruption within the Governments and my concern is with the OPCW, whom I’m pretty sure will play the willing fool. It seems some people will step out of the bubble, but are carefully choosing their words. They are obviously scared of ruining their careers.

  18. Harry Law says

    Because the UK have breached the OPCW rules [the 24 hour ultimatum] the options open for the Russians are many under the OPCW.. here inter alia…
    Article IX. Consultations, Cooperation and Fact-Finding
    1. States Parties shall consult and cooperate, directly among themselves, or through the Organization or other appropriate international procedures

    A State Party shall have the right to request the Executive Council to assist in clarifying any situation which may be considered ambiguous or which gives rise to a concern about the possible non-compliance of another State Party with this Convention. The Executive Council shall provide appropriate information in its possession relevant to such a concern.

    A State Party shall have the right to request the Executive Council to obtain clarification from another State Party on any situation which may be considered ambiguous or which gives rise to a concern about its possible non-compliance with this Convention. In such a case, the following shall apply:

    (e) For the purpose of obtaining further clarification requested under subparagraph (d), the Executive Council may call on the Director-General to establish a group of experts from the Technical Secretariat, or if appropriate staff are not available in the Technical Secretariat, from elsewhere, to examine all available information and data relevant to the situation causing the concern. The group of experts shall submit a factual report to the Executive Council on its findings;

  19. You have been told to ignore troll Brad Pitte – so do just that stop answering him/ her only encourages – this my first comment on this site!!!

  20. Navara says

    If the OPCW is not forthcoming with an open and honest report from Douma and Salisbury, Lavrov must denounce the organisation publish the Spiez Laboratory report for all to see.
    The UK Police should also be concerned over evidence being witheld.

  21. AntonyI says

    The UK’s only (military) chemical weapons lab Porton Down is just 6 miles from Salisbury. Did Skripal choose to live there or was he told to by his British handlers?

  22. Labor Spiez carried out an analysis of blood and environmental samples from the end of March on behalf of the OPCW. The dramatic finding: The Swiss experts discovered not only the substance A-234, which belongs to the group of Soviet Novichok poisons, but also the chemical agent BZ (3-quinuclidinylbenzilate), which has bee kept during the Cold War in the chemical weapons arsenals of the United States and other NATO countries, but not in Russia. The purity of the A-234 substance which was found is such that it would have killed the Skripals and the policeman within hours.

    • Any poison has a lethal dose, so it is possible to get sub-lethal dose. Only two cases of A-234 poisoning were described. A lab accident, hood (ventilation of fumes) malfunction, leading to permanent health deterioration, and a successful assassinations when the victim died in few hours. Yulia Skripal was described as fully recovered, so the dose was not only sub-lethal but also not leading to permanent health damage (the poor chap obviously inhaled, short of intravenous injection this is the most potent administration of a poison, but touching it with lips, the assassination case, is probably as bad).

      Purity may have minor impact on potency. Some people think that “purity” is suspicious, because it may imply that the detected molecules had no modifications resulting from interactions with enzymes, antibodies etc. that are present in blood. Given how little is known, probably a mammal would have to be subjected to a sub-lethal dose and a time sequence of blood content would have to be checked.

      • I don’t think splashing your hand with a nerve agent can be called a sub-optimal dose, something the guy who says he invented Novichok and whose veracity we are supposed to find credible claims happened to him in a lab accident.

        • And why was he not wearing protective gloves in the first place?!

          It sounds like a tall tale, at best.

          • Mirzayanov was in technical support in Russia: he never had the training or the knowledge required to create any such weapons in the first place. His claims all date from after he’d moved to the USA, where he says he developed what either he or his American handlers called “novichok”.

            • Hot laddy says

              I have never read that before.

              Please provide written journalistic evidence.

            • BigB says

              Vaska; Veirotchka: have you not seen the BBC interview? Vladimir Uglev claims he got some of the very batch the Skripals were poisoned with on his hand in the lab.

              “You could say the Skripals and I are baptised by the same novichok, except that in my case it was A-240, not A-234. But it was my substance. And judging by how pure their test sample proved to be, this may well have been from a batch made by my own hands. It has a long shelf life, and virtually no expiry date.”



            • Vaska and BibB – I was referring to Vladimir Uglev, of course. Also, the other day, when I did a google about him I saw that he had been interviewed by several other British media, and that his story varied. In one of them, he claimed he had on several occasions got some Novichock on his hand. I don’t remember which terms I used in google, and I am too tired and my eyes are too weak for me to do that search again.

        • Hot laddy says

          Well you’re wrong,

          It is designed to be administered as a gas, actually tiny particles in air-suspension.

          • “Antidotes to nerve agent poisoning must be given immediately (see below). It should be noted that some Novichok agents have been specifically designed to be resistant to standard nerve agent antidote therapy.”

            “Novichok agents may be dispersed as an ultra-fine powder as opposed to a gas or a vapour.”

            “The main route of exposure is thought to be by inhalation, although absorption may also occur via skin or mucous membrane exposure.”

            “Exposure to nerve agents may be tested for by checking blood samples for any decrease of acetylcholinesterase enzyme activity.”

            Appropriate PPE must be worn by members of emergency services who may be treating nerve agent casualties. Inadequate decontamination may result in secondary cases from exposure to primary cases.

            Progressive symptoms suggest continued exposure which may be due to inadequate decontamination or inadequate treatment/insufficient antidote therapy.

            Muscle twitching and excess secretions are the main distinguishing features between nerve agents and chemical asphyxiant agents, such as cyanide.


            Since antidotes to nerve agent poisoning must be given immediately, how come the first responders, a doctor and nurse who were passing by and first found the Skripals, [a while before the ambulance arrived, and a longer while before the Skripals arrived at the hospital], the ambulance paramedics and the hospital staff knew exactly what nerve agent had been used and gave the antidote immediately or soon after the Skripals were found? If the Skripals had really been poisoned by Novichok, the first responders, the ambulance paramedics and the hospital staff knew in advance that it was Novichok and had the antidote on them and administered it immediately, which obviously did not happen.

            Novichoks exist in various forms. While some Novichok agents are liquids, others are believed to exist in solid form. This means they might have been dispersed as an ultra-fine powder.

  23. Something that seems to have evaded the notice both of OffG and posters, is that we are talking here about both blood samples and environmental samples. It is quite clear from what Sergei Lavrov has said that the Russians consider the Novichok – supplied by PD – was applied to the doorknob of the Skripal’s house just before the OPCW took samples. Because it is highly toxic, and degrades rapidly, there is no possibility that the Skripals were ever exposed to it, and certainly not THREE HOURS before they showed symptoms – as would have been the case here.
    Blood samples of nerve agents do not show the original and ‘pure’ form of the agent, because it is rapidly altered by the body’s metabolism, so the tests for Sarin – for instance – carried out by the OPCW in Moadamiyah in 2013 only found the metabolites of Sarin – unlike environmental samples from Jobar (not Moadamiyah!) where Sarin was found around alleged missile strike sites.
    So it is perfectly possible for Spiez lab to say it found Novichok or related agent – A234 – in the environmental sample, while not mentioning that it didn’t find any in the blood sample.
    The “chemists” discussions on these agents in the blood is therefore irrelevant.

    • A point of clarification: d you have a source that states or confirms Spiez Lab results for A-234 refer specifically to an environmental sample and not to the blood samples OPCW had taken?

  24. Admin says

    Until further notice the repeat poster “Brad Pitte” is a troll. He’s been asked to provide data for his numerous argumentative claims of “fact.” Until/unless he does we suggest you all think twice before bothering to engage with him.

      • Hot lad says

        The real Brad Pitt has a brother called Doug.

        Dug pit.

        Daft parents, eh?

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          Surely you are the other brother, Cecil.

    • Hot lad says

      That doesn’t sound very like free speech and open discussion.

      • Admin says

        The mere fact you have posted this comment is proof we do indeed practice free speech. Most other sites, including those who have pretty free comment policies, would have banned your IP as soon as you used multiple IDs.

        Reminder – post sources for your claims in future and don’t troll.

        This is a probation period. More than you’d get anywhere else.

  25. Brad Pitte says

    Forget all that.

    We will never know all the details in order to judge.

    Russia has motive. Skripal was a traitor. Why shouldn’t Russia want to bump him off? It makes sense, particularly if you think like the kgb?

    • JJA says

      If Russia wanted to bump him off, they had ample opportunity when he was in gaol there. Plus the KGB no longer exists, it was a relic of the Soviet era.
      If you undermine spy swaps by bumping an exchangee after an exchange, no one would engage in spy swaps any more. Ergo, Russia had no motives. Britain, US and Israel, on the other hand..

        • MillibandMonkey says

          I don’t know what he’s saying! Can anyone translate?

          • Hot lad says

            Switch in the auto translate.

            The cog wheel.

            It’s a bit rough, but you’ll get the idea.

            • Putin says that traitors, particularly officers who sworn an oath and made their fellow officers to suffer, will bitterly regret…

              IMHO, such motivation would explain something like a series of suicides, accidents etc. among the exchanged traitors, something that affected opponents of the current Ukrainian government. “Inducing suicides and accidents” is within capabilities of trained assassins.

              • Mulga Mumblebrain says

                How do you Ukronazis handle traitors? We know how you handle eight-month pregnant women ie garroting then burning, from your Odessa massacre.

              • Hot boy, Brad Pitte says


                Putin is saying they will all commit suicide or have accidents.


                Let’s just think about that a bit…

                And why does Putin NOW say that he has no quarrel with Skripal? Why the change in heart?

                And note very, very carefully that the clip is form 2010, just after Skripal’s spy swop.

                He WAS talking about Skripal.

                • I see. So what you’re saying is Putin had this man in prison in Russia for six years but didn’t harm him, let him out, swapped him and then decided to wait another eight years before killing him with an untested agent that may not (and didn’t) work just at a time when the West was looking for reasons to further demonise and sanction his country.

                  And you honestly think this is not only plausible but more likely than anything else?

                  • Hot laddy says

                    He wasn’t in prison, as such he was under hard labour, normally a killer. He served 4 years, i think.

                    How do you know this was the only attempt to kill him?

                    And you miss my point that now is a good time as Brexit and trump means Europe and NATO are weak.

                    • Hot laddy says

                      I mean how do you know there were not other attempts made on his life while he was in England?

                      Yuila was almost certainly accidental.

                      Although I do wonder where her fiancé has gone and why she doesn’t want to communicate with him…

                      Maybe he is involved.

                    • Skripal was in prison, he never was under hard labour.

                      Why do you keep writing half-truths and fiction here? Who do you think you are convincing, apart from yourself?

                  • Hot laddy says

                    You must admit it is a pretty damning video, particularly as putin suddenly has changed his mind and says he has nothing against Skripal.

                    Bear in mind that the video is from 2010, JUST AFTER THE SPY SWAP, Skripal the biggest spy, swapped 10 from the USA (inc. Anna Chapman) to 4 from Russia (in. Skripal).

                    That means Skripal was worth at least 2.5 times Anna Chapman.

                    I get the feeling I am arguing with people who don’t actually know the facts, anything about Russia or even the uk.

                    • There are 8 years between 2010 and 2018, so it is hardly “suddenly”.

                      Putin obviously offered, in the exchange, the least “important” double-agents. To say that Skripal is worth at least 2.5 times Anna Chapman is meaningless.

                    • As for your feeling that you are “arguing” with people who don’t actually know the facts, don’t know anything about Russia or even the UK is ridiculous. There are highly informed and knowledgeable Anglo-Russians, Russians and Brits (as well as highly informed and knowledgeable people from other countries) posting here.

                      With practically each of your post, you become increasingly ludicrous!

    • Peter says

      When swap was made MI6 had duty to take care on Skripal. Russians do not do swaps without mutual warrants of safety of people in question.

  26. As well as the addresses given above there is an email address for the OPCW. I am concerned with the wording as to whether the OPCW took the blood samples themselves or whether the UK took the samples and passed them to the OPCW. Words and phrases like ‘obtain’ and be ‘supplied with’ are not the same as ‘take’. The OPCW report uses the phrase ‘was able to collect’. I emailed the following on 12 April:

    Press inquiry

    Dear OPCW team,

    Can somebody please clarify whether medics from the OPCW took independent blood samples from Sergei and Yulia Skripal or whether the body relied solely on samples supplied by Great Britain? The verbal phrase used in the summary is “was able to collect” which is ambiguous. I thank you in anticipation of clarification.

    Yours faithfully

    John Goss
    (Freelance journalist)”

    I await a reply. They may well have taken the samples themselves but the phraseology does not confirm that/

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      The OPCW is controlled by the USA, so expecting anything but what Thanatopolis DC demands is bizarre self-delusion.

  27. Harry Law says

    Blood was taken from the Skripals shortly after the incident was found to be a nerve agent or related compound by Porton Down, then to ensure proof of custody more blood had to be taken by OPCW. I do remember reading in the last couple of day’s that the UK government asked the OPCW to ‘confirm’ the findings of Porton Down or some such phrasing. In other words the UK only wanted the OPCW to confirm rather than to look for other chemicals in the samples. This strict interpretation by the UK as the complainant could be why the Russians were refused a sample. Sorry I can’t put you onto that official request at this moment.

    • “In other words the UK only wanted the OPCW to confirm rather than to look for other chemicals in the samples.”

      Yeah, unfortunately complainants to the OPCW don’t usually have the right to define scope in that way, for obvious reasons. The OPCW has to produce the verifiable chemical data retrieved from the supplement in such a way that both countries’ chemists can see that what is there is there, and what is not there is not. And I believe it is the U.K.’s responsibility to provide a sample to Russia under the OPCW agreement, is this not right?

      • Harry Law says

        The Russians say they have the right to receive samples and all other evidence under OPCW rules, the UK say that to let the perpetrator have all that evidence would be perverse and they are not going to give the Russians any evidence. Does not sound very legal to me. Even a drunk driver is given a sample to test in another laboratory.

        The UK Foreign Office said that the country was acting in compliance with the regulations of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which does not require it to share samples of the nerve agent with Russia.

        • Paul says

          Well, yes, and then there is the question of who the wronged party is here–at least one or two Russian citizens attacked on British soil, Russia slandered, verdict before evidence, etc. Russia would be justified in filing a counter complaint and formally accusing the UK, demanding a challenged inspection from the OPCW, which the UK could not refuse (though the OPCW would likely refuse)

    • Brad Pitte says

      The OPCW took their own blood samples.

    • Brad Pitte says

      From the OPCW tech report 12 April 2018…

      The team was able to collect blood samples from the three affected individuals under full chain of custody for delivery to the OPCW Laboratory and subsequent analysis by OPCW designated laboratories, and conducted identification of the three individuals against official photo-ID documents.

      • Brad Pitte says

        The point is ‘chain of custody’.

        Look it up. It goes further than your question…

        • grandstand says

          And who had “chain of custody” of the individuals from whom the blood samples were taken? And why not share with Russia?

  28. I would just like to reiterate that the language of Porton Down’s deposition in the High Court document is compatible with the Skripals’ being tested positive for BZ.

    for “nerve agent or related compound” read “nerve agent or BZ”.
    for “Novichok class nerve agent or closely related agent” read “Novichok class nerve agent or BZ.”

    People are reading these disjunctions as chemists would, not as lawyers do. Read them as lawyers do, and nothing in the deposition points necessarily to Novichok or even to a nerve agent at all.

    This analysis corroborates Dr. Stephen Davies’ [sp?] letter that nobody at Salisbury Hospital was being treated for nerve-agents, and only three people were being treated for “poison.”

    • Brad Pitte says

      There were TRACES of BZ according to Lavrov.

      BZ could have been added to slow down, dampen the effect of the Novichok.

      Yes I am a chemist.

      The disinformation is startling. The source and type of chemicals in the samples does not prove who did it (or who didn’t do it!).

      • Why do you place “traces” in all caps?

        Do you mean to imply by this that there was “not very much” BZ or that there were signs of the recent metabolization of BZ in both samples. If the latter, can you tell us how quickly BZ is metabolized and why this might bear on the use of the word “traces”? Since you’re the chemist.

        • Brad Pitte says

          Because many are misquoting Lavrov.

          Some are saying that the sample was BZ. That isn’t at all true. It contained traces of BZ, if indeed that statement is correct, which we only have Lavrov’s statemtn so far.

          But you are all totally exaggerating this anyway.

          • I am still waiting for you, the chemist, to explain to us all the biochemistry of drug metabolization and its relation to the word “traces” in Lavrov’s statement.

      • While you’re at it–and again since you’re a chemist–tell us about the relative rates of the metabolization of BZ and A-234, and comment on the interesting point that Lavrov makes about the latter being found in its pure form. Does he mean by this its unmetabolized form? Why would it be significant that the traces of BZ indicate metabolization (if they do) while the A-234 does not?

        • Brad Pitte says

          What point does L make about the Novichok being pure?

          I don’t understand his point.

        • Brad Pitte says

          Is this what you mean?

          Lavrov cast doubt on that conclusion, saying a big dose of that substance would have killed the Skripals.

          He said that claim was “extremely suspicious” because the highly volatile A-234 nerve agent could not have been found at the scene in large quantities given that more than two weeks had passed between the attack and the collection of the samples.


          First point is, as I keep saying FALSE. The only ever recorded case of a Novichok killing took FIVE YEARS. it may yet kill them, hopefully not, eh, chaps?

          A234 is not highly volatile. It degrades in damp conditions, that’s not the same as it’s purity.

          • Your quick-repeat postings and various claims of “facts” made w/o sources and which run counter to much expert testimony (eg your claim that novichok is “slow-acting”) strongly suggest you are disingenuous and trying to lead the conversation astray.

            To counter this impression kindly cite sources for your claims of fact in future. This will, of course, be very easy for you if you are, as you claim, a “chemist.”

            Make a start by linking to your sources for:

            a) your claim “novichok” has been used to kill someone

            b) your claim it’s slow-acting

            c) your claim A-234 is stable and doesn’t degrade.

            If you don’t produce these links we are going to treat your future posts as trolling.

      • Peter says

        If you are chemist than you should know that A234 is very unstable compound and that it should degrade fastly especial if weather conditions were humid as on that day.
        In addition, it is strange that we can see video surveillance of reastaurants and shops, but Skripals did not have any video surveillance who might put that poison on tehir front door. Very strange! Is it?

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says

        ‘Yes, I am a chemist’. Priceless chutzpah!

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      But now, the May regime, with the usual hysterical over-kill, is claiming that it will take NINE MONTHS to ‘de-contaminate’ those areas of Salisbury affected by the ‘military grade never agent, ten times deadlier than VX’. Evil, insane and in the throes of hysterical dementia. May looks the type, too.

      • Brad Pitte says

        That’s simply ‘elf and safety, belt and braces, mate.

        Don’t read too much into it.

      • Paul says

        And what have they done to protect the citizenry until now? Now there’s a contamination risk?

      • Paul says

        Oh, and, sorry, Salisbury about the tourism….

  29. flamingo says

    Thank you Zaska for an intrepid piece of research. The main obstacles to the UK lie factory are that so many western countries have novichok like agents and only the west has BZ. There must have been one extreme reaction when they discovered that Lavrov had the Spiez report. hahaha. This story gives apoplexy its best meaning. I would bet that Spiez has been brow beaten to within a millimeter of its life for that slip.

    • Brad Pitte says

      How do you know only the west has BZ?

      • Brad Pitte says

        Both the West and Russia have plenty of BS, that’s for sure!


        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          Moral equivalence trolling, methinks.

  30. Paul says

    Sorry “decapitate” should read “incapacitate”

  31. Paul says

    BZ has the opposite effect of the nerve agents of the cholinesterase-inhibiting class (to which the ‘novichok’A234 belongs). BZ antagonises the neurotransmitter actylcholine whereas the cholinesterase-inhibitors enhances the action of acetylcholine (by preventing its breakdown). You could think of a scenario where BZ was given first (to decapitate) and then inadvertently acted as an antidote to a subsequently administered nerve agent (that was meant to kill). So the victim surprisingly survives…

    • Brad Pitte says

      …or delay action, to allow the assassins to escape?

      • grandstand says

        Evidence please? Assassin caught on CCTV cameras perhaps?

  32. Paul Carline says

    The OPCW is clearly not independent and just as clearly not passionately interested in the truth. Can we any longer expect people and organisations (especially those with vested interests) to tell the truth? It seems not. The Swiss government is not a disinterested party. I think we can expect a fudge which gives no proper resolution but leaves the public uncertain as to whom to believe.

  33. Brad Pitte says

    One lab, allegedly found TRACES of BZ

    All four labs confirmed the uk statement

    And the only ever fatal case of a Novichok death took FIVE YEARS to kill, so,lay off the James Bond villian stuff.

    • Brad Pitte says

      From the real Guardian

      Before former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia collapsed on a park bench in Salisbury on 4 March, the only other person confirmed to suffer the effects of novichok was a young Soviet chemical weapons scientist.

      “Circles appeared before my eyes: red and orange. A ringing in my ears, I caught my breath. And a sense of fear: like something was about to happen,” Andrei Zheleznyakov told the now-defunct newspaper Novoye Vremya, describing the 1987 weapons lab incident that exposed him to a nerve agent that would eventually kill him. “I sat down on a chair and told the guys: ‘It’s got me.’”

      By 1992, when the interview was published, the nerve agent had gutted Zheleznyakov’s central nervous system. Less than a year later he was dead, after battling cirrhosis, toxic hepatitis, nerve damage and epilepsy.

      But by deciding to go public, he joined those blowing the whistle on a chemical weapons programme that was still charging forward years after George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev signed the 1990 US–Soviet Chemical Weapons Accord in which each pledged to halt the production of chemical weapons.

      Despite Zheleznyakov’s role in creating a binary of a nerve agent believed to be more potent than the deadly VX nerve agent, he remains a hero to some.

      “He gave all the information – I couldn’t do that at the time,” said Vil Mirzayanov, a chemical weapons scientist put on trial in Russia for first revealing the existence of the novichok programme, speaking to the Guardian at his home in Princeton, New Jersey. “He was not afraid because he knew his days were numbered.”

      Zheleznyakov was never prosecuted, but he could not outrun the poison. He lost the ability to concentrate, Mirzayanov said, and eventually isolated himself.

      He died in 1993 of a brain seizure while eating dinner, divorced and childless, largely disgruntled at the perceived indifference shown him by his superiors and journalists.

      Russian officials continue to deny ever having such a programme. “I want to state with all possible certainty that the Soviet Union or Russia had no programmes to develop a toxic agent called novichok,” said Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov last week.

      • Ivan says

        Brad, it is quite clear by now what Guardian’s real aim in life is. It is clear to everyone what are the more immediate goals of the trio US/UK/France. It is also clear to every person with critical thinking ability what is Skripal’s case really about (creating a linkage between a “chemical attack in Britain” and a “chemical attack in Syria”).

        So you can cite other 10 pieces of Guardian, or rather 1000 as Guardian’s spiritual guide recommended.

        This will not change the facts, which are:
        1. Russia presented Britain withj a detailed list of questions, nothing to do with “national security” . They were left without answer.
        2. US and Britain play political games in OPCW to make the investigation as non transparent as possible.
        3. The obvious questions such as how come Skripals were immediately given the right antidote were never asked by your “democracy watchdogs”
        .. (and I can add).

        • Brad Pitte says

          The antidote was simple atropine.

          Novichoks don’t have any special antidote.

          • Mulga Mumblebrain says

            If ‘Novichoks’ are ‘ten times deadlier than VX’, that kills in minutes, when did the Skripals get atropine, and why did the deadly ‘nerve agent’ take three or four hours to act, and why did it effect both Skripals at exactly the same time, within a very few minutes at most? Feel free to be inventive-you’ll get a bonus.

            • Brad Pitte says

              Atropine would have been administered in the ambulance or even when they were on the bench.

              Why was it slow acting? Don’t know.


              -Bad batch
              -Deliberately desinged to delay action (hence the BZ?)

              Also, as I say, Novichok took five years to kill last time…

              • Thomas Peterson says

                I dont think ambulances carry atropine, nor would the Skripals have been immediately diagnosed as affected by a nerve agent

              • Mulga Mumblebrain says

                Nope-not inventive enough. VX kills in a few minutes at most. Novichok is ‘ten times deadlier’, remember. Who diagnosed a ‘nerve agent’ so quickly? The more you invent, the more holes you create.

            • Brad Pitte says

              Why both at the same time?

              They were infected at the same time?

              One may have been secondary infection, but that could have been seconds after.

              One assumes Yuila was not the real target…

              • Mulga Mumblebrain says

                Get the terminology correct. Infection pertains to infectious diseases. With poisons it is ‘contaminated’ or something similar. If there was enough poison to leave a ‘trail’ how did the infected person not notice and raise the alarm? Why the long delay, of a few hours, if it is ‘ten times worse than VX’? Ludicrous garbage.

          • Ivan says

            Brad Pitte, you try everything, besides the obvious:

            Your government is lying to you.

            This explains all the “mysteries” right away, and complies with Occam’s razor principle, unlike your suggestions.

        • Brad Pitte says

          The point is that Novichok does not kill immediately, even if it’s meant to.

      • flamingo says

        Thanks Brad but save the whitewash for the white helmets. They are surely in need of some. “Traces of BZ” were found? what did you expect, a bucketfull perhaps. The labs normally only find traces of anything FFS. Reprinting a Guardian article is akin to saving and reusing toilet paper.

      • Mulga Mumblebrain says

        The ‘real’ Fraudian?!! Is that you Luke? You’re no Brad Pitt(e) I fear, old boy.

          • Peter says

            Your knowledge on chemistry is quite questionalble. Your knowledge on phorensic investigation doe snot exist. I understand that you want to question everytyhing which is legitimate, but you shoudl carefully read what sciences says on that and try to comment with more comprehensive and elaborate comments. I guess chemists would do in that way.

    • Paul Carline says

      Allegedly? You reveal your bias very quickly, leaving any sensible person to question your evidence and conclusions. Whoever carried out this poisoning had to have a very clear motive. Do you seriously maintain that Russia would organise this event – just before the presidential elections? It makes as little sense as the claim that Assad would organise or approve a chemical attack just when he has achieved a decisive military victory over the terrorists funded and armed by the West.
      As Lord West pointed out, an alleged chemical attack would only benefit those who are trying to turn Syria into another failed state.
      Clearly you dislike (fear?) the BZ claim because it points directly at US or U.K. complicity – which is also the most reasonable explanation as there was motive, means and opportunity.

      • Brad Pitte says

        This may have been the best attempt of many over the years.

        From 2010, the year of the Skripal spy-swap.

    • The UK statement is compatible with the finding of anything. So it is not surprising that all the labs confirmed it.

    • Nick G. says

      Don’t you mean one lab out of four have so far had their BZ findings made ‘public’ via a leak? Who’s to say the other three didn’t find it?

      • Brad Pitte says

        You trust a leak more than the statement?

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          Of course, when the statement comes from known stooges of the USA. Just as I prefer a leak from a truth-teller to your twaddle.

        • Peter says

          We trust the what can be truth. The statement is quite dubious for anyone with scientific experience in chemistry and phorensics.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Oh, dear-they’ve woken up at Tory Party HQ.

Comments are closed.