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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  • John Brown

    Surely the person with most to gain from the poisoning is Kim Jong-Un. At a stroke he would obtain:
    1) A warning to Russia to keep them supplying him with weaponry, or else he could take targets out in Russia.
    2) A sign to Europe and the USA that N. Korea is one level up in technical advance, from the level demonstrated
    by the assassination of the half-brother with VX gas..
    3) He has talked about unleashing biological weapons on the USA using his ICBMs. The USA can therefore
    not be sure if any new ICBM might contain chemical agents. It seems that this new nerve agent can be
    used at low levels as a contact poison to cause illness after a short delay, without death.
    That makes it perfect for attacks on N. Korea’s
    neighbours, with mysterious illnesses that nobody can explain. This can be done from small robot submarines,
    which I believe N. Korea is already developing.
    4) May’s knee-jerk reaction has severely weakened the UK fight against home-grown Islamist terrorism,
    and in fact if counter-terrorism police are really “assigning hundreds of officers to the Salisbury poisoning”,
    should they not now declare the terrorist threat level as Critical, since Islamists will no doubt take advantage
    of the low-staffing position. It would have been wiser to have kept quiet about the scale of the
    5) Relations between the UK and Russia are now very troubled, making the prospect of more sanctions
    against N. Korea, far less likely.
    6) By diverting attention towards chemical attacks on home soil, in Europe and the USA, less Western attention
    will be paid to weapons testing by N. Korea.

    I would welcome the use of House Arrest on suspected ex-ISIS fighters returning to the UK, widening
    the time window for interrogation and snooping activities aimed at ranking the level of threat from
    different individuals.

  • Robert Peffers

    in regard to your comment – “I don’t suppose there is any sign of the BBC doing any actual journalism on this”. I’d suggest the last two words in your comment are superfluous.

    • Ben

      “This is exactly what we are observing; not only in the silly Skripal nerve-gas assassination story but also in all the rest of the Russophobic nonsense produced by the AngloZionist propaganda machine including the “Litvinenko polonium murder” and the “Yushchenko dioxin poisoning“.

      Saker sucks pootie.

      • Kempe

        ” The fact that neither nerve-gas, nor polonium nor dioxin are in any way effective murder weapons ‘

        Oh dear, he really has lost the plot on this one hasn’t he? He ought to try telling that to Kim Jong-nam.

      • Canexpat

        Wow Ben
        Three minutes to click on a link, read a 2,500 word article, select a quote and post an incisive, considered reply. I have always been impressed by the quick intellect of commentators on this forum but you take the biscuit. I am in awe! Perhaps we have been lied to about the U.S. education system as well as everything else 🙂

  • Bob Apposite

    “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 … ”

    So when Craig repeatedly implies, with no evidence and no logical explanation that Israel or the U.S. committed this crime am I to assume he’s blinded by hatred?

    Here’s the difference that you don’t seem to understand.
    There is circumstantial evidence indicating Russia as the prime suspect in a crime.
    They are conducting a criminal investigation. This is how you do that.
    It’s not hatred. It’s criminal procedure.

    Whereas what you guys are doing – is hatred.

  • Paul Barbara

    Obvious the ‘Usual Suspects’ are up to their necks n this fake or False Flag attack; ‘Corbyn again refuses to blame Russia for Salisbury’:
    And intent on trying to harm Jeremy’s reputation. Vot a bunch of a**so’s are the Bliarite wing of the ‘Labour’ Party!

    I’m be seriously hobbled for a week, ‘cos my computer’s on the blink and in for repairs, so it’s public sources for a week – difficult.Bear with me!

    • Sean Lamb

      Interesting, I have a feeling this might be a sign of an unraveling plan.

      I wonder if Nikolai Glushkov was the person who gave information about Skripal’s movements to Skripal’s attackers – and perhaps was not as compliant as people hoped.

      • N_

        He could have funded whatever was being done with the nerve agent. Or he could have been the target. Whatever, he won’t be telling anyone now.

        • N_

          Dunno about unravelling, but something seems to have f*cked up, although planners expect that.
          My hunch is still that a Korean connection will arise.

    • Nicky

      Traumatised daughter who found her Russian exile father dead at his London home goes into HIDING as it emerges he owed £87m – and his debts now pass to her ..it also makes you wonder where the real source of this money came from ..

      The Associated Press published a horrifying report about criminal networks in the former Soviet Union trying to sell “radioactive material to Middle Eastern extremists.” At the center of these cases, of which the AP learned of four in the past five years, was a “thriving black market in nuclear materials” in a “tiny and impoverished Eastern European country”: Moldova. They never got the kingpin or who else were involved ..

      • N_

        His debts “pass to” his daughter? WTF are they talking about? Debts aren’t supposed to get inherited.

        Funny how when an “oligarch” dies mysteriously – Peter Rachman, Robert Maxwell, Boris Berezovsky – their estate is found not to have a positive value.

        Basically whoever kills them grabs their money.

  • Kat

    After reading all the hysterical propaganda poured onto us by the media and politicians, i have a simple question: why there are no other suspects in this case? Despite the fact that Russia under international, documented supervision completely destroyed its chemical weapons, and Israel, the country with a list of ‘strange’ assassinations including polonium, did not? Isn’t it suprising that a serious accusation on the state level that per se threatens international peace and safety is based on memoirs by a whistleblower?

    • JohnsonR

      “we are seriously p******g off what could have been some useful trading partners. What is the method behind this madness of angering China and Russia at the same time?”

      It’s infuriating, isn’t it? I mean, it’s hardly as though it’s out of any kind of moral scruples given our government and media’s fawning attitude to the likes of Gulf sunni tyrants and Israel.

      Clearly it’s not remotely in our national interest to be on confrontational terms with either Russia or China, let alone both, so whose interests are May and our political and media elites serving?

  • Vicki

    Mr. Murray, I saw this link on the Assange Twitter feed. Very interesting. I’m wondering if you would do an interview with Jason Goodman, the male 1/2 of the @csthetruth duo you met at the embassy last year… It would be a very interesting show and it would help Americans (dumb as we are) understand the issue and possibly get to the real players here. Americans want to blame everything on Russia!

  • Graham patterson

    It’s unlikely that the Tories I speak to on line or otherwise will accept this as it goes against their own party’s narrative! It always amuses me when I hear them calling others blinkered, brainwashed and sheeplike !

    • alwaywrite

      its not just the average Tory, its sadly most of the Labour lot too, they sound like a bunch of swivel eyed nutty neocons, especially the Blair faction

  • Nev Wright

    It seems the Poison is the same type as when the General Belgrano was said to be heading in opposite directions !

    • Nicky

      Boris doesn’t have a clue imagine him running the country it’s bad enough with Theresa and am surprise she didn’t learn anything from all her time being Home Secretary it’s alarming, not reassuring and I wonder how many years this is going to take to recover but anyway it’s the taxpayer who going to be footing the bill for all this mess at the end of the day like always ..

  • zoot

    successive disastrous wars based on lies have stripped the political elite, their intel agencies, and their media of credibility on issues such as this. why would anyone trust these people after iraq, libya?

  • David Nicholson

    Not since 911 have I trusted any government or any politician, I just don’t believe anyone without indisputable evidence. I suppose it has always been thus but we learn from experience. Look carefully folks smoke and mirrors will be deployed.

  • james

    thanks craig… “It is very carefully worded propaganda. Of a type developed by liars.” exactimondo….

    boris the idiot is hoping for some compliance from the OPCW… hard to know if he gets it.. everyone seems to be able to be ‘bought out’ these days..

  • Stu

    I think the developed/manufactured confusion highlights a poverty of reading comprehension amongst large sections of the public and a loss of the ability to comprehend nuanced language and ideas.

    Another puzzler is the belief that sanctions will make any difference to the behaviour of the Russian government. The Russian government control 1/8th of the world’s land mass and all the resources that come with this. Their only interest is in maintaining the status quo. London property and swiss bank accounts are no doubt important to their owners but on a larger scale it’s obvious that controlling 1/8th of the planet means that whatever wealth you lose can be replaced many times over. Sanctions logic stems from the same type of stupidity as believing state finances and household finances are analogous.

  • P Clarke

    Thank goodness for a rare voice of sanity in the current “Russophobic” hysteria. Whatever happened to just allowing the Police to carry out their investigations, name suspects wanted for questioning etc etc before jumping to conclusions. All smacks of the same hysteria over Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and the relentless anti Gaddafi and anti Assad propaganda deployed to such disastrous effects.

    As for the BBC, I barely ever watch it anymore. It is not fit for purpose and an insult to the word “journalist”. I seldom get behind the first couple of minutes of their continuous briefing against Brexit, against Donald Trump and constant parroting of the EU position on just about everything.

    • Freddy

      Oh yeah ?

      Then try France24 and you’d thing that BBC is the quintessence of honesty and the highest level journalism

  • Jennifer Long

    Your diligent journalism has confirmed what I (and probably many others) have suspected since the Tory rush to blame the Russians, and Putin in particular, a few days ago. The tone of the accusations by the Government has been alarming and I do hope the British people don’t have to pay the price, because as sure as eggs are eggs this will blow up in our face. I am pleased that this information will, eventually, vindicate Jeremy Corbyn and his cautious approach to the issue. Many thanks.

    PS I am just a concerned ordinary person.

  • shugsrug

    Great that you are keeping this debate going. It is unbelievable that so many MP’s, MSM, and others are so ready to accept Russian guilt without proper evidence. Reeks of the Birmingham 6 and the Guildford 4. Only a short step from fascism when the leader of the opposition can not ask for a bit more information and enquiry, without being shouted down in Parliament and in the press. Much like your very own treatment. If we lose the right and will to challenge jingoistic grandstanding we are truly sunk. The good news is that many more people than May and her chums think have moved on and are questioning the tales we are being told.

    • Petr Grozny

      The key question is how many? I’m in Russia at present and cannot judge. And how far is it possible for those of us who question the official narrative at the outset persuade those who didn’t?

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