Of A Type Developed By Liars 746

I have now received confirmation from a well placed FCO source that Porton Down scientists are not able to identify the nerve agent 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?

Erratum – I originally typed “nerve gas” and not “nerve agent” in the first line – purely my error.

746 thoughts on “Of A Type Developed By Liars

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  • simon

    if only you would just believe
    forget about the trauma of the past
    the lies and deceipt
    by deception thous shalt do wars
    forget about what has gone before
    think now
    look at the eyes of boris look at the may day gay day
    look deep into the eyes when open not shut.
    deep soils indeed
    sorry souls
    neal kinnocks son gavin the new tough guy telling the russians to shut it like a character from bbc east enders indeed.
    such honest faces all
    no secrets nothing to hide
    no agenda
    simply making a priority of the safety and defense of the realm already

    we are so unhappy here because we do not believe\
    we need belief
    be happy
    why be a none believing sad enemy agent
    bbc shows the way it is a nice pied piper tune safe space for us all.
    please be lief

    and if you are fighting fit why not looky for a career in
    the army
    if you have a mental condition we could send you to the officer corpse for training

  • mike

    Now Bullingdon Boris is being wheeled out to point the fact-free finger at Putin. You know the official narrative is in trouble when that happens.

    Expect a distraction, probably tomorrow. My money’s on the Donbass or Eastern Ghouta.

    • MJ

      A CW attack in Syria has been expected for some time now. This may have some relation to the current pantomime.

  • nellytelefant

    No evidence, no proof but loads of conjecture and speculation.

    I have just had all of my comments deleted on the Independent regarding this topic and I am no longer allowed to post. None of my posts breached any rules and none, as far as I’m aware, were reported for their content. Looks like someone there isn’t happy that many people don’t believe the official story and are voicing their concerns.

    • Maggie Watson

      I can’t log in to my Independent account and I too have been very critical about the official story. I’ve complained and they say they are trying to sort it out but it’s still unavailable.
      There’s always Offguardian to post comments.

      • nellytelefant

        Thanks for your response Maggie. I can log into my account but all of my past posts have been deleted and any new ones that I try to post come up as ‘Awaiting Moderation’. It may be software glitch but the cynic in my suspects otherwise. I have also been highly critical of the government’s narrative. I have now emailed them and awaiting a response. Would you mind updating me if you have any developments?

        Many thanks,

      • nellytelefant

        Update from Independent – Unfortunately, your account has been flagged up for moderation by other commenters, and certain comments you made breached our community guidelines. You account has been blocked.

        What a joke!

    • Henry North

      They wont allow anything that breaches what the government have told them to stay within. Media is controlled. Any one who grew up on the Eastern side of the Iron Curtain could tell you that.

  • Bob Apposite

    It’s pretty obvious from Russia’s reaction that they know it was a Russian.

    You don’t need to be a Psych expert.
    They’re in “hide everything mode.

    Probably the fact that they’re having a rigged election soon and their dictatorship generates a lot of discontents so that assassination is a political tool there.

    The only question really is – was it ordered by Putin? Or was it to against/to embarass Putin?

    But either way, they’re working hard to hide it.
    Which means it was Russians.

  • Bob Apposite

    The “big lie” is that Russia is a just a democracy with problems.
    A lie repeated by Craig Murray as recently as in his “normalising Russia” article.

    It’s a dictatorship. Plain and simple.

    The “liars” are the ones telling that lie.
    This is why the Russian ambassador in the UN is so keen to say nothing, change the subject, deflect, stall, etc.
    The big lie itself is on the table, now.

    This is also why Murray is desperate to pin this assassination on *anyone* else, even though he has ZERO evidence at all – which leads him into the total hypocrisy of claiming “blind belief” for his conspiracy theories but “absolute proof” for everyone else.

    He’s complicit in the big lie.
    Hypocrisy is a big clue to that.

    • Kat

      Your response is highly irrational and has emotional reasons behind it. If you are confident that someone is guilty of a crime with NO evidence and NO logical explanation but you nevertheless go on insisting they committed it, it means you are blinded by hatred which is an emotional reaction … or you know it’s not true but you have a secret agenda and you hope your position will damage your enemy. The latter is a ‘diplomatic’ tool widely used in politics but it has nothing to do with justice or truth! well, this is very similar to how inquisition approached their victims…

    • Ben

      During the Ukraine Annex Craig was crestfallen at the Putin worship here. Did his needle get moved Left?

  • Ben

    Is Putin a criminal? Lol!!

    “Dr Stock’s reaction was that Russia immediately needed western financial help to stop Novichok and other chemical and biological agents being exported illegally by criminal elements. Western help arrived eventually but was it too late. The countries of the former Soviet Union, with the exception of the Baltic nations, were in chaos at the time.”


  • richard heron

    It has to be said, there is never any sign of the BBC doing any professional journalism!

  • Sharp Ears

    This morning, James O’Brien on LBC made a throwaway remark, when introducing his programme, about ‘remarks from retired ambassadors’ in his silly attempt to discredit the unbelievers and naysayers. on this subject. There is a pretence that he is some sort of saviour of the western world and will speak out against the propaganda. He is the very opposite.

    • Kat

      Litvinenko was NOT Putin’s political opponent! He was a defector, or simply put a traitor who was close to Berezovski and the Chechen mafia, both welcomed by the British authorities on the British soil. Qui bono? Listen to this eye-opening interview with Paul Barril, a French chief intelligence officer, now retired https://youtu.be/aLI-gXJ7T5E

      • Ben

        And yet the noise about this current poisoning balances on Putin’s disinterest in the victim..

  • shargash

    Thanks for the perceptive article. We desperately need pushback against the hysteria.

    One other thing I think is important to note: the phrasing “of a type developed by Russia” is misleading at best, disingenuous at worst. Novichoks was developed by the Soviet Union. The mindless equation of Russia with the USSR is itself part of the propaganda.

    • Ben

      “The mindless equation of Russia with the USSR is itself part of the propaganda.”

      Pootie ain’t Stalin?


  • Mike Heaps

    Conjecture, suspicion but no facts. Yet again Jeremy Corbyn villianised by the toadying right wing press and resentful back bench Labour MPs who have not got over their resentment that the members of the labour party choose their and not them. Jeremy’s prudence again showing him to be a worthy leader, rather than leapinh on the populist band wagon.

  • David Collins

    Well said. Does anyone else look askance at the timing of the announcement by the defence Secretary that DSTL will receive £48 million of extra funding to invest in a brand new ‘Chemical Weapons Defence Centre’ at Porton Down “to ensure the UK retains its world leading capability in chemical analysis and defence”? This plan would surely have taken years to design, cost and receive funding approval.

    • Henry North

      Where the hell did the money come from? The government keeps pleading poverty when it comes to benefits, 75000 people have lost their motability cars…. But that is small fry compared to the amount of money that just got announced.

  • Stephan

    I found the wording of the stories that make it to American press. To be just as carefully crafted.
    I’m not a chemist, or scholar. But I can read, and its not very difficult to surmise the reasons, why such choice words would be used. Stay suspicious its the only sane thing any of us can do. Keeping armed likely wouldn’t hurt either.

    I have however, learned, to take the advice offered in a short story by Poe. “Believe nothing you hear and only one have of what you see”
    My guess is. No one is reporting is likely. They’ve already told you what you half shouldn’t believe. And shown all of what you shouldn’t believe.
    I’m just a tradesman but I’m glad to see there are at least some educated folk who are willing to point out the dishonest nature of government and press.

    • Kat

      Wait, not Russians?!?!?! But polonium is a type developped and even produced in Russia! However bought by the USA year after year from Russia…. funny world we live in

    • Trowbridge H. Ford

      The Mossad poisoned Arafat, as it did Sasha Litvinenko for blackmailing important Anglo-American leaders for killing Olof Palme in the expectation of blaming it on the Soviets or working for the KGB, like Romano Prrodi and Angel Merkel.

  • Nick

    > “Novichoks” were at most a theoretical research programme which the Russians had never succeeded in actually synthesising and manufacturing
    What about memoirs of Mirzayanov? Do we not believe them? He mentiones one scientist that was accidentally exposed to it.
    What about the murder of Ivan Kivelidi in 1995? Wasn’t it “Novichok” used? That was a substance from the same laboratory in Schikhany, Saratovskaya oblast.

  • Scott Kuli

    This is a great article. For me, the most fundamental obvious truth is that it is highly unlikely that Russian intelligence would risk exposure of an active asset in Britain to kill a former double agent who’s no longer a danger to Russia. I really have a problem believing that.

    Aside from that, there’s the fact that even before Britain joined the US’ “Five Eyes” scheme it was already the most heavily domestically surveilled country in the Western world, yet all we have for evidence that someone might have poisoned them is a grainy still from a CCTV camera. The still is so bad you can’t tell there are three people in it, although they say there are.

    Now, if that third person was who poisoned them, I find it hard to believe that a trained former intelligence agent wouldn’t have questioned a not asked for touch or whatever must have been done to place the poison, and that being the case, why would he then continue on to a park area with his daughter and sit on a bench?

    The British claim that the Russians did it is laughable at this point.

    • Ben

      ” I really have a problem believing that.”

      No one, apparently, has noticed Pootie inflating his breastplate of late? Emboldened? Unchecked?

    • Bill B

      ” it is highly unlikely that Russian intelligence would risk exposure of an active asset in Britain to kill a former double agent who’s no longer a danger to Russia. I really have a problem believing that. ”

      Yes, unless they don’t care, or unless their motive was to make it look like someone else was setting them up so that eventually everyone will assume that if Russia is being accused of something then it must be a ploy by our own evil governments. . .

      “The British claim that the Russians did it is laughable at this point”

      If I’ve understood their tactics properly then that is exactly what they want you to believe.

  • Bob Apposite

    I’m not sure what Craig Murray expects Britain to do here.

    It would be interesting to see an opinion piece on how he would handle this differently.

    I mean, they suspect Russia of a serious crime.
    Telling your suspect “hey, there’s evidence pointing to you, but it isn’t conclusive” is not really how criminal investigations work in the real world.

  • Ben

    Whatever you do, dont look at counterintel departing from the narrative that feathers your political nest.
    You’d be highly disadvantaged to remain in good standing..

  • Ben

    Why hasn’t Donald Trump, personally excoriated Putin?
    Have you ideas?

    Because he’s as smart as yall?

  • KMG

    Can I ask – and this might seem a silly question to those who know – but from what I’ve read of the chemist Mirzayanov who documented the possibility of formulating the Novichok group, he contemplated a toxic agent which could be made up ‘in the field’ from readily-available ingredients. We read that Novichok would have an organophosphate base – Roundup weedkiller, perhaps – with some other ingredient which someone here with knowledge of chemistry could identify from the published formulae. Why, then, would anyone need to keep a stockpile, or even small sample of this ready-mixed, as it were? Why not just keep the documentation as to how it’s made? If it was, as our beloved government say ‘brought into the country’ I must ask ‘why’? Why not just buy the bits from B & Q?

  • Nicky

    Russia inherited “the Soviet Union’s” vast stores of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. And they were a mess. Western visitors to weapons depots and labs were shocked to find AWOL guards, broken fences and unlocked doors. Two million nerve gas shells were discovered sitting in rotting barns in a patch of forest in western Siberia. ?

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