OPCW Salisbury Report Confirms Nothing But the Identity of the Chemical 540

The word “Russia” does not occur in today’s OPCW report. The OPCW Report says nothing whatsoever about the origin of the chemical which poisoned the Skripals and certainly does not link it in any way to Russia.

The technical ability of Porton Down to identify a chemical has never been in doubt, and the only “finding of the United Kingdom”the OPCW has confirmed is the identity of the chemical.

10. The results of analysis by the OPCW designated laboratories of environmental and
biomedical samples collected by the OPCW team confirm the findings of the United
Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury and
severely injured three people.
11. The TAV team notes that the toxic chemical was of high purity. The latter is
concluded from the almost complete absence of impurities.

There are scores of countries that chemical could have come from. For the BBC and other mainstream media outlets to pretend that the OPCW has in any sense endorsed Boris Johnson’s claims about Russia is to spread deliberate lies as propaganda. In fact what they have confirmed is simply the finding of Porton Down – and that finding was that it is a chemical which cannot be confirmed as made in Russia.

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540 thoughts on “OPCW Salisbury Report Confirms Nothing But the Identity of the Chemical

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  • Rhys Jaggar

    RT now quoting Sergei Lavrov that the OPCW-accredited laboratory in Spiez, Switzerland, has named the toxic agent as BZ toxin, aka 3-quinuclidinyl benzylate. Lavrov states this has never been used in Russia, but has been ‘in service’ in the UK and US.

    He has also expressed frustration that OPCW did not make the Spiez lab identification public, which is presumably why he is making it public now.

    Lavrov is raising the diplomatic heat by also complaining that the UK refused to answer dozens of detailed questions about the incident.

    1) BZ was originally developed in 1951 in Switzerland by the pharmaceutical company Hoffmann la Roche, being tested and rejected as a potential anti-ulcer drug.

    2) From 1959 on, the Us army developed this as a chemical weapon. US stocks were apparently destroyed in 1989.

    3) Western accusations that Iraq stockpiled Agent 15, an agent believed similar or identical to BZ, were eventually rejected as without foundation by the CIA in the early 2000s.

    4) Again, accusations about use of Agent 15/BZ in Homs, Syria, surfaced, however again it was concluded to be unproven.

    5) 1mg of BZ injected intravenously is enough to kill around around 500 people. You do not need a factory to make enough BZ to kill two people….

    6) BZ causes symptoms SEVERAL HOURS AFTER CONTACT.

    7) BZ can be used as an INCAPACITATING AGENT as well as a nerve agent if used at lower doses.

    8) BZ is odourless, has a half life of three to four weeks in moist air (which means rain in Salisbury would not inactivate it).

    9) The chemical structure of BZ does not appear similar to many of the Novichoks bandied around the past few weeks. There are no fluorine or chlorine residues and there are three ring structures, two of which are simple benzene rings.

    Whilst those with more technical expertise than me can argue the finer points, the initial presentation symptoms of the Skripals are consistent with the documented characteristics of BZ, in stark contrast to the characteristics of Novichoks. So Boris Johnson’s claims appear to be singularly inaccurate and one wonders which scientists at DSTL are going to volunteer that they put their technical expertise on the line by telling him what he claims that they did.

    Another key question is whether there were any other other active agents in blood samples of the Skripals or whether BZ is the only active compound identified. Perhaps OPCW labs might like to find out?

    A third key question concerns known laboratories who synthesise BZ. Are licenses required to synthesise it? Does Porton Down hold stocks? How about any US or Israeli agencies?

    Russia could still be in the frame, but it appears that the US had the most experience, over 25 years, working with this compound…..

    All in all, these statements put the diplomatic cat amongst the pigeons……

  • M0sstr00per

    So “a chemical” was used. That narrows it down to the entire periodic table. Though I’m guessing we can discount oxygen, gold, silver & most of the radioactive elements.

  • Agent Green

    Seems to me almost certain that the Skripal attack was carried out by US/UK intelligence agencies. Latest reports even indicate the use of BZ agent, which is a NATO agent created by US/UK only.

    • Martin Kernick

      BZ is an odorless military incapacitating agent. (intended to incapacitate rather than kill).
      BZ was invented by the Swiss pharmaceutical company Hoffman-LaRoche in 1951.
      BZ was ultimately weaponized for delivery in the M44 generator cluster and the M43 cluster bomb, until all such stocks were destroyed in 1989 as part of a general downsizing of the US chemical warfare program.
      BZ is odorless and nonirritating with delayed symptoms several hours after contact.

      from the wiki page

  • Isabelle

    This post is a reply on another thread.

    Further to Mr Lavrov’s quoting from the Spiez lab report that the sample contained BZ, the Spiez lab have tweeted tweeted yesterday that they have no doubt the Skirpal substance was a Novichock. They have not admitted (as far as I can see) that they have received or analysed the substance. They appear to base their lack of doubts on their high opinion of Porton Down’s professionalism.


    “Stefan Mogl is Head of Chemistry division of Spiez Laboratory and is a former OPCW inspector and head of the OPCW Laboratory.” He gave an interview on 05.04.2018 to Neue Zurcher Zeitung (a Swiss German-language daily newspaper) on the Skirpal affair. He did not say that Spiez lab were / or would be / or had been involved in the analysis.

    Although Mogl said he was sure that Porton Down had made the correct analysis of the substance (based on his trust in Porton Down) he went on to say that the origin of the substance would not be identifiable. (Google translation – original article available in German).

    “Can the exact provenance be determined by checking the substance used?
    Mogl makes it clear that this is not possible at today’s level of knowledge.
    In this respect, the excitement about the statements of the head of Porton Down is missed, who had stated on Tuesday that his institute could not prove that the substance comes from Russia.

    According to Mogl, such a finding had never been expected either: Little is known about the method of production of the Novichok poisons, so that no conclusions can be drawn about the country of origin or even the responsible laboratory.”


    This is the same Mr Mogl who identified the Syrian government as having used chemical weapons in April 2017 even though he went to Syria and didn’t visit the alleged attack site, because it was too dangerous. He disagreed with Russia that it was necessary to visit the site in order to conduct his investigation. Here’s an interview with him about how he conducted the investigation in to the poison gas attack at Khan Sheikhun in April 2017.


    The website of Spiez Laboratory in Switzerland is interesting and informative.

    They are an “Internationally recognised verification laboratory for chemical warfare agents Analysis” and are a “Designated laboratory of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)”.

    Their PDF on how fast their Response Teams work in the event of a Chemical Weapon attack makes one wonder if the UK has anything similar. The “Chemistry Specialists of their Emergency Response Team” can carry out on-site sampling within minutes of arrival at the scene.

    ” The measuring and sampling team consists of three specialists and is capable of beginning its job in the contaminated area within a few minutes after arrival. ”


    • Patrick Mahony

      But Lavrov says Russia has an asset in Spiez who gave them the paperwork sent by Spiez to OPCW after analysing Salisbury samples. So Spiez mendacity by not saying if they were a “designated” lab contributing to the report is neither here nor there.

  • Geoffrey Smith

    It is unlikely to come as a surprise to readers of this website that the BBC has rejected my complaint that its headline of 12 April, claiming “Nerve agent inspectors back UK” was misleading. The criterion applied in reaching this decision appears to be, not whether the headline was misleading, but that the article beneath “isn’t trying to be misleading.” The subsequent wording appears to have omitted part of a copy and paste answer – viz. “Headlines are concise and can’t carry the fuller details of the subsequent article’s.” – ending there, presumably leaving out something like “entire contents.”
    Below I have copied the wording of the original complaint and the reply from the BBC Complaints Team.

    Original Complaint: To claim the OPCW gives the UK its “backing” is a seriously misleading representation of what it actually says. The OPCW report confirms it agrees with the UK experts about the identity of the nerve agent used in the attack: no more. To suggest it “backs” the UK is to suggest that, like a court, it has upheld the UK government’s argument and found against the arguments of the Russian government – including the UK government’s claims that the nerve agent was produced in Russia, that the Russian state is the only possible culprit, and the Foreign Secretary’s claim that the Russian head of state, President Putin, is himself directly implicated in the attempted murder of the Skripals on British soil using a military grade chemical weapon. Although the headline may accurately reflect the government’s arguments and the view shared by most of the British media it is NOT a fair or factual way to report the OPCW finding – and ought therefore to be corrected ASAP. The BBC must remain fair-minded, accurate and factual.

    Dear Mr Smith
    Reference CAS-4882113-4N7LG6
    Thanks for contacting us regarding the BBC News website article at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43741140.
    I understand you believe the headline is misleading as it might suggest nerve agent inspectors back the claims that Russia was involved.
    Thanks for raising this issue. I’ve checked the article and it isn’t trying to be misleading. Headlines are concise and can’t carry the fuller details of the subsequent article’s. That said, we are conscious of the need for headlines to be worded carefully so as not to mislead readers or give the wrong impression about a story. This is frequently a very difficult decision for our editors and we appreciate that not all readers will feel we get it right on every occasion.
    Looking at what’s reported, it states, “The international chemical weapons watchdog has confirmed the UK’s analysis of the type of nerve agent used in the Russian ex-spy poisoning. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons did not name the nerve agent as Novichok, but said it agreed with the UK’s findings on its identity.”
    Nevertheless, we do value your feedback about this issue. All complaints are sent to senior management and news teams every morning and I included your points in this overnight report.
    These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensures that your complaint has been seen by the right people quickly. This helps inform their decisions about current and future programmes.
    Once again, thank you for contacting us.
    Kind regards
    Philip Young
    BBC Complaints Team

  • Sammaye

    “For the BBC and other mainstream media outlets to pretend that the OPCW has in any sense endorsed Boris Johnson’s claims about Russia is to spread deliberate lies as propaganda”

    Huh? I don’t remember them doing that, unless you read the headlines?

  • Patrick Mahony

    Lavrov’s statement about Spiez Lab is interesting. The information he received about the BX detection was from a whistleblower. It was not in Top Secret OPCW codicil.
    So either Spiez was the only lab to find BX and by chance is the only one with a whistleblower. Or all the labs found BX and OPCW ignored it.
    To me it looks like BZ was used to incapacitate the Skripals. They were abducted in a well planned op, hence police, ambulance, paramedic, chopper all on hand in 10 minutes. Given novichok in “hospital”. And are now dead.

    • rob

      Who says the opcw ignored it? They in fact consider the name of the chemical used in the attack so sensitive that the didn’t mention it in their public report (which was requested by the uk) and only included it in the classified report. this despite may stating publicly that the chemical used was Novichok 7 A-234. if it’s in the public domain, why classify it?

      The OPCW report said that they “confirmed the uk findings”, but they did not say what those findings were, I suspect they didn’t rely on sky news for those findings but rather a technical request as provided by the UK. The report also says “alleged nerve agent”, they could be confirming that there was a nerve agent, or allegedly a nerve agent, but still they do not identify what the government told them so we don’t know what they are confirming.

      the _only_ solid untainted non-political evidence that we have available to us comes from the application to take blood, which states

      “CC: Porton Down Chemical and Biological Analyst

      Blood samples from Sergei Skripal and Yulia Skripal were analysed and the findings indicated exposure to a nerve agent or related compound. The samples tested positive for the presence of a Novichok class nerve agent or closely related agent. ”

      Confirming that, without telling us the name of the alleged agent, tells us nothing more than we already knew

  • BabsP

    It seems to me that what Lavrov actually said was that there were two agents identified. The first was a nerve agent identified by chemical formula – A234, presumably what has been referred to as Novichok – and this was found in very high quantities. The second was BZ which is an incapacitator. It is used to incapacitate temporarily and works within 60 minutes and lasts for up to 4 days. BZ has been used by the U.K., the US and NATO countries – not by Russia.

    His points were (i) if Novichok had been administered in such high quantities then, given its volatility and the time passed by the time the samples were taken, both victims would be dead and (ii) why was BZ not mentioned at all in the official findings.

    His conclusion was that BZ was the agent used to temporarily incapacitate the Skripols – and presumably ( though this was not stated) that the A234 was a plant because no one died as they would have, had it been present in such large quantities..

    If this is true – and Lavrov quoted directly from the report from the Swiss lab – then this is explosive. It is evidence of a set up – a false flag by the UK- to justify war against Syria and to exacerbate tensions against Russia.

    Have I got this right?

  • Swissbabe

    The Swiss “Neue Zuericher Zeitung” newspaper (NZZ), who is in close contact with a certain Stefan Hogl, being in personal uniion head of the Swiss SPIEZ laboratory and the OPCW Syria mission, tries to justify the find of BZ as follows:

    “Typisch ist, dass die OPCW nicht nur die «echte» Probe verschickt, sondern auch negative und positive Kontrollproben. Diese sind zwar ähnlich beschaffen, enthalten im ersten Fall aber keinen chemischen Kampfstoff, im zweiten Fall einen anderen, der extra der Probe beigefügt wurde.”

    In English:

    It is standard procedure that OPCW sends out not only the “real” sample, but also negative and positive “control samples”. Even though those have a similar consistence, in the first case they do not contain a military toxin at all, in the second case another one, which has been added for this purpose.”

    Can anyone with expertise comment on that?

    • rob

      not an expert but it makes sense, the negative sample will eliminate accidental contamination at the lab (if they detect anything in that sample, their testing is not reliable) and the positive sample with eliminate a deliberate attempt to hide the result (since the lab will not know which of the 2 actual chemicals is the suspect). It does presuppose that they have a very good idea up front of what the chemical was, so they can be sure they send a different one.

      Either way, the opcw saw fit to keep the name of the actual chemical classified despite novichok 7 a-234 being in the public domain via the pm

      • Swissbabe

        The manipulations and errors you describe above, were they not supposed to be eliminated by giving the same samples directly to FOUR different accredited and highly respected laboratories, without anybody interfering? And, if the NZZ was right, would this “procedure” of mixing and distributing “control samples” not have to be disclosed in the final report to the State parties, which was obviously not the case?

        • Swissbabe

          Remains to add that they would also have to disclose which then is the “super-laboratory” mixing the control samles together and deciding which nerve agent to add (BZ, another Novitchok or what else and where to take it from). Given that Mr. Mogl was head of SPIEZ and of OPCW in personal union, the super-lab was SPIEZ itself ???????

    • Patrick Mahony

      Are you saying Spiez got 3 samples A, B and C, one with nothing, one with novichok, one with novichok and BZ. The only way they could do that is if they knew already B had novichok. Because otherwise it might come back A and B nothing C novichok + BZ

      • swissbabe

        Patrick: I just try to clarify what others say. The NZZ newspaper says that three samples where sent out to the laboratories: Sample A was a blank sample, sample B was an untouched sample from the scene, sample C was a sample from the scene but with an additional substance added. Why do you think sample B would also “come back” with nothing? Please clarify, I am not a scientist.
        However, for me the whole method makes no sense here because this is not a quality test of laboratories or a medical experiment, but simply the analysis of a given sample. The scientific purpose to test other – fake – samples as well in this context remains a mystery to me.

      • swissbabe

        NZZ newspaper from today, allegedly summarizing the explanation of the chairman of the IPCW of today:

        “Eine Vorläufersubstanz des Kampfstoffs BZ wurde zwar von den beiden beteiligten Laboratorien identifiziert, aber diese Chemikalie stammte nicht aus den Proben von Salisbury. Vielmehr wurde sie in Den Haag einer Kontrollprobe beigemischt, mit der die Zuverlässigkeit der beigezogenen Laboratorien getestet wurde. Das entspricht der normalen Praxis der OPCW zur Qualitätssicherung. Der Grund dafür, dass die OPCW bei solchen Untersuchungen auch Kontrollproben mit dem «falschen» Kampfstoff verschickt, ist folgender: Sie will sicherstellen, dass das involvierte Institut nicht weiss, in welcher Probe sich der richtige Stoff befindet.”

        In English:

        “A precursor substance of the chemical weapon BZ has in fact been identified by the two laboratories involved, but this substance did not stem from the samples from Salisbury. Rather, it was added to a control samplein Den Haag , by which the reliability of the laboratories involved was testet. This corresponds to the usual practice of the OPCW for quality assurance. The purpose for the OPCW to also send control samples with a “fake” agent in these investigationsis the following: It wants to secure that the laboratory/institute involved does not know in shich of the samples the right substance is contained”.

        What a nonsense:

        a) see my comments above
        b) samples have to be taken, secured and DATED, SIGNED AND SEALED ON SITE. If a sample has arrived at a laboratory without or with a broken seal, the laboratory must refuse to investigate the sample and instead CRY FOUL!

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