It is also important to point out the history of the accusers predicating entire wars on allegations now confirmed to have been intentional lies.
The Skripal Incident
The alleged poisoning of Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, UK on March 4 led to a lighting-fast escalation with Russia. Not even two weeks after the attack, UK Prime Minister Theresa May declared a deadline for Russia to provide an “explanation” for the incident the UK had squarely blamed on Moscow.
The Kremlin’s explanation was simple – it had nothing to do with the attack. Russia also offered to aid in the investigation, requesting samples of the poison used in the alleged attack.
However, the UK failed to produce any samples of the alleged poison – a Soviet-era nerve agent known as Novichok – either to the Russians to examine or to relevant international organizations as required under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
The UK also failed to explain why Russia would have carried out such an attack – or how the UK could have confirmed the use of Novichok agents without first possessing samples of the agents themselves. If the UK possessed Novichok agents to compare samples taken from the attack with, the entire rationale of accusing Russia because it is supposedly the only nation in possession of the agents is revealed as entirely false.
The Daily Beast in its article, “Soviet Scientist Who Developed Novichok Poison Used on Sergei Skripal: ‘I’m Sorry’,” would admit:
For the prime minister to be able to publicly accuse the Russians of using a nerve agent like a novichok, British authorities at least must have had access to novichok’s unique chemical signature—which it legally could have had despite the Chemical Weapons Convention, due to the clause of countries being able to hold samples for testing in these incidences.
Testing for novichoks, even based on a formula published by Mirzayanov in a memoir based on his work in the 1980s, is a potential sign that the British have potential access to newer variants of the nerve agent.
The Guardian too would admit in an article titled, “Novichok nerve agents – what are they?,” that:
The fact that so little is known about the novichoks may explain why Porton Down scientists took several days to identify the compound used in the attack against the Skripals. And while the agents were invented in the Soviet Union, other labs with access to the chemical structures would be able to manufacture them too.
The fact that the alleged creator of Novichok agents – Vil Mirzayanov – fled to and currently lives in the United States suggests the West has both knowledge of and the means to create Novichok agents themselves.
The UK’s presumption that “only Russia” could have produced the agents when the creator of Novichok lives in the United States – and British labs clearly have access to the poison – is at face value contradictory and dishonest.
Since the UK has refused to produce any tangible evidence, including producing samples under its obligations to the Chemical Weapons Convention, all that is left for the international community to consider is the source of these accusations.
Consider the Source: The West Has a Sordid History of WMD Lies
In the lead up to the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, the Western media sold the global public tales of “weapons of mass destruction” (WMDs).
Then US Secretary of State Colin Powell sat before the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) presenting fabricated evidence to the world in an effort to build a case for the upcoming US invasion.
Powell would claim (emphasis added):
We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction; he’s determined to make more. Given Saddam Hussein’s history of aggression, given what we know of his grandiose plans, given what we know of his terrorist associations and given his determination to exact revenge on those who oppose him, should we take the risk that he will not some day use these weapons at a time and the place and in the manner of his choosing at a time when the world is in a much weaker position to respond?
Yet upon the US invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq, none of these supposed weapons of mass destruction were found. Eventually the US and UK incrementally began admitting to fabricating evidence, “sexing up” dossiers, intentionally citing unreliable sources, and misleading their allies and the world.
Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown would accuse the US of intentionally misleading the UK. In a Guardian article titled, “Gordon Brown says Pentagon misled UK over case for Iraq invasion,” it’s admitted that:
The US defence department knew that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction but kept Britain in the dark, according to an explosive new claim from Gordon Brown.
In an extraordinary allegation, the former prime minister states that a secret US intelligence report into Iraq’s military capabilities was never passed to Britain and could have changed the course of events. The revelation leads Brown to conclude that the “war could not be justified as a last resort and invasion cannot now be seen as a proportionate response”.
Other reports attempted to claim the US itself was “duped” by unreliable intelligence sources. The UK Independent in an article titled, “Curveball: How US was duped by Iraqi fantasist looking to topple Saddam,” would claim:
As US secretary of state, Colin Powell gathered his notes in front of the United Nations security council, the man watching — Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, known to the west’s intelligence services as “Curveball” — had more than an inkling of what was to come. He was, after all, Powell’s main source…
Everything he had said about the inner workings of Saddam Hussein’s biological weapons programme was a flight of fantasy – one that, he now claims was aimed at ousting the Iraqi dictator.
The Independent – however – stretches credibility by claiming al-Janabi “duped” the US. The same Independent article would admit that al-Janabi was never even in contact with the US directly despite the US basing its entire UNSC presentation on his claims. The lack of due diligence in confirming al-Janabi’s admitted lies doesn’t suggest a concerted attempt on Washington’s part to ascertain the truth, but a cynical and intentional attempt to conceal it.
The US simply found whatever source it could to bolster otherwise baseless accusations to justify an otherwise unjustifiable war it had already long-ago elected to wage.
In hindsight, even then US President George Bush admitted there were no weapons of mass destruction. President Bush attempted to blame faulty intelligence, but as the Powell-al-Janabi connection – or rather – disconnection reveals, there was never any intelligence to begin with – simply fabricated lies.
Who Will Play Powell, Bush, and “Curveball” This Time?
This brings us back to the Skripal incident. The accusations of the British government already aren’t adding up. Considering the lack of actual evidence the UK has provided and the British government’s verified history of fabricating claims regarding the use of WMDs to advance it and its allies’ geopolitical agendas – the burden of proof never rested upon Russia.
Just as the US and UK did during the lead up to the Iraq War in 2003, an avalanche of propaganda is being produced to stampede the world into backing whatever long-ago elected course of action the West has decided to take against Russia.
In the hindsight of whatever course of action the UK and its allies decide to take in the coming days, weeks, and months based on the Skripal incident, who will play the role of “Curveball” who supposedly duped Theresa May in making her Powell-style accusations before declaring her Bush-style retaliation?
And considering the ramifications for the West regarding its lies in the lead up to Iraq and the fallout the West has faced in the aftermath of Iraq’s destruction, what do Western policymakers expect to gain from an incident many times more transparently staged and self-serving against a world increasingly skeptical of their claims and actions?
Still, the accusations are serious and the prepared responses from the West will assuredly further endanger global peace and stability. That the alleged attack took place on British soil means that – unlike in Syria – there is no UNSC the West must pass through before taking matters into its own hands.
This fact alone – following years of frustration in the face of Russia’s veto power upon the UNSC in regards to Syria – makes the nature of the Skripal incident even more suspicious. The UK appears to have a pretext and a clear path toward escalation before it – how far it and its allies are prepared to go remains to be seen.
I have now received confirmation from a well placed FCO source that Porton Down scientists are not able to identify the nerve gas as being of Russian manufacture, and have been resentful of the pressure being placed on them to do so. Porton Down would only sign up to the formulation “of a type developed by Russia” after a rather difficult meeting where this was agreed as a compromise formulation. The Russians were allegedly researching, in the “Novichok” programme a generation of nerve agents which could be produced from commercially available precursors such as insecticides and fertilisers. This substance is a “novichok” in that sense. It is of that type. Just as I am typing on a laptop of a type developed by the United States, though this one was made in China.
To anybody with a Whitehall background this has been obvious for several days. The government has never said the nerve agent was made in Russia, or that it can only be made in Russia. The exact formulation “of a type developed by Russia” was used by Theresa May in parliament, used by the UK at the UN Security Council, used by Boris Johnson on the BBC yesterday and, most tellingly of all, “of a type developed by Russia” is the precise phrase used in the joint communique issued by the UK, USA, France and Germany yesterday:
This use of a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, constitutes the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War.
When the same extremely careful phrasing is never deviated from, you know it is the result of a very delicate Whitehall compromise. My FCO source, like me, remembers the extreme pressure put on FCO staff and other civil servants to sign off the dirty dossier on Iraqi WMD, some of which pressure I recount in my memoir Murder in Samarkand. She volunteered the comparison to what is happening now, particularly at Porton Down, with no prompting from me.
Separately I have written to the media office at OPCW to ask them to confirm that there has never been any physical evidence of the existence of Russian Novichoks, and the programme of inspection and destruction of Russian chemical weapons was completed last year.
Did you know these interesting facts?
OPCW inspectors have had full access to all known Russian chemical weapons facilities for over a decade – including those identified by the “Novichok” alleged whistleblower Mirzayanov – and last year OPCW inspectors completed the destruction of the last of 40,000 tonnes of Russian chemical weapons.
By contrast the programme of destruction of US chemical weapons stocks still has five years to run.
Israel has extensive stocks of chemical weapons but has always refused to declare any of them to the OPCW. Israel is not a state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention nor a member of the OPCW. Israel signed in 1993 but refused to ratify as this would mean inspection and destruction of its chemical weapons. Israel undoubtedly has as much technical capacity as any state to synthesise “Novichoks”.
Until this week, the near universal belief among chemical weapons experts, and the official position of the OPCW, was that “Novichoks” were at most a theoretical research programme which the Russians had never succeeded in actually synthesising and manufacturing. That is why they are not on the OPCW list of banned chemical weapons.
Porton Down is still not certain it is the Russians who have apparently synthesised a “Novichok”. Hence “Of a type developed by Russia”. Note developed, not made, produced or manufactured.
It is very carefully worded propaganda. Of a type developed by liars.
This post prompted another old colleague to get in touch. On the bright side, the FCO have persuaded Boris he has to let the OPCW investigate a sample. But not just yet. The expectation is the inquiry committee will be chaired by a Chinese delegate. The Boris plan is to get the OPCW also to sign up to the “as developed by Russia” formula, and diplomacy to this end is being undertaken in Beijing right now.
I don’t suppose there is any sign of the BBC doing any actual journalism on this?
We’re supposed to believe that an evil genius who can rig foreign elections is suddenly so stupid he uses a ‘Russian nerve agent’ to provoke a hostile state, just before his own election. I believe: one of these photos is a lying toad, the other is an amphibian taking a nap pic.twitter.com/YE4gOy8IIk
— MarkGB (@MarkGBblog) March 13, 2018