Moscow’s using the UK as a dumping ground for poison after the hospitalisation of two unemployed people with a room in a homeless hostel.
At least, that’s what the UK’s Home Secretary is saying these days. And Russia must explain what the hell is going on, in spite of the fact that Russia has previously been accused of losing control of its stocks of nerve agents, even though the OPCW verified the destruction of the Russian Federation’s chemical weapons in 2017. Meanwhile, no evidence connecting the Russian government to the poisoning of the Skripals has been produced.
As far as I can gather, we’re to believe that a team of highly trained Russian door handle poisoners, swabbed the door handle of the Skripal’s home in Salisbury…and then drove away along B roads instead of taking the obvious A roads out of there, and wound up in Amesbury about eight miles away, where they threw away the container containing the poison. Something like that anyway.
And sure, it’s possible.
Then again, it’s also possible that back in May, when the Director General of the OPCW claimed in an interview with the New York Times, that he’d been informed that up to 100g of Novichok was kicking about (that up to 100g may have been used in Salisbury), that his information was accurate enough. The entire story was subsequently pulled (not amended or updated) and the OPCW issued a statement saying there was no way they could possibly ascertain the quantities of agent used in the Salisbury attack. And that seems reasonable enough.
But not knowing what quantity of an agent was used in a particular incident, and not knowing the quantity of an agent available for use are two entirely different matters.
Back in May, I did a post on the Guardian’s reporting of the Üzümcü interview. Brigid commented that she’d sought to find the name of who-ever told Üzümcü there was up to 100g of Novichok by dropping a line to the journalist who interviewed him. She didn’t get a response. I also dropped the first of two emails to the OPCW asking who had given that information to Üzümcü. But apparently there was nothing to add to the OPCW press release that followed off the back of Üzümcü’s interview.
But I can’t see why Üzümcü would pull the figure of 100g from out of his arse, and am persuaded to think he was indeed told, by a source he’d consider to be reliable or reputable, that authorities were looking at that sort of quantity. The thing is, that removes the Russian Federation from the picture. Obviously.
And then we are simply left asking whose inventory of Novichok is shy by some 100g. That’s who has lost control of their chemical weapons. That’s who has a lot of explaining to do. And I’d be thinking that who-ever told Üzümcü about that 100g (if their information is accurate) leads right back to where we need to go.
Porton Down, the UK’s chemical research facility, is a few miles away btw. And I think I’m right in saying that it must have samples of Novichok or else it could never have identified the substance used in Salisbury. Which may or may not have anything to do with anything. Much like the Russian Federation may or may not have anything to do with anything.
Whatever it is that has happened, is happening, or will happen, I do wish journalists and the employers they work for were less accommodating to official spin; that they were a lot more critical, curious and tenacious.