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.


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

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  • Adrian

    The OPCW report does not confirm a “nerve agent”. It only confirms a “toxic chemical”.

    This is consistent, perhaps, with the letter written by Stephen Davies of the NHS stating no one was treated at Salisbury District Hospital for nerve agent poisoning.

    The OPCW is letting motivated media and members of the public run with claims – we don’t even know what version of the UK’s identification with which it’s in accord,

    • Andrew Mills

      Hello Adrian,
      That’s not my reading of the OPCW’s summary report. I’ve cut and pasted clause 10 from the summary below. They do indeed confirm the UK’s findings. Clause 12 makes it clear only state parties will be informed about the name and structure of the toxic 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.

      12. The name and structure of the identified toxic chemical are contained in the full
      classified report of the Secretariat, available to States Parties.

      • Ophelia Ball

        How so, Andrew – what ‘reading’ is there other than the phrase ‘toxic chemical’ which appears in paras 10 & 12, whilst the phrase “nerve agent” does not?

        The truth is that, for the time being at least, we simply do not know what ‘toxic chemical’ was involved and whether it was or was not a ‘nerve agent’ (much less which nerve agent and who deployed it)

        I think we need to be quite clear who the OPCW are referring to when they mention “the UK’s findings”; without more, I would interpret that to mean Porton Down, rather than the British Government per se, and, as we know from last week’s press conference, the two versions are not synonymous

      • mathiasalexander

        So just to clarify;
        Porton Down hasn’t told us what the toxic agent is or if its a nerve agent.

        The OPCW has’t told us what the toxic agent is or if its a nerve agent.

        But whatever the toxic agent is Porton Down and the OPCW agree on what it is.

        Porton Down/OPCW verdict on what the toxic agent is might not be the same as the government.

        So we know nothing.

        I’m sticking with food poisoning.

        • Kempe

          ” But whatever the toxic agent is Porton Down and the OPCW agree on what it is. ”

          …and Porton Down said it was a Novichok.

          • Ultraviolet

            That’s what so many people are getting confused about.

            They didn’t.

            They said in a sworn statement to the High Court that “the findings indicated exposure to a nerve agent or related compound”, and that it was “novichok or a closely related agent”.

            All the OPCW has said is that they agree with this finding, and they have named the precise compound in the confidential report.

            What is your explanation for why, if it was novichok, they didn’t say in the report that it was novichok?

  • D_Majestic

    Headline on BBC News Site.19 minutes ago. ‘Inspectors Back UK in Spy Poisoning Row’. Talk about fake news….

    • RAC

      “Headline on BBC News Site.”…Headline on BBC government propaganda Site. There that’s fixed it.

  • Keith McClary

    “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.”
    Just listening to the predictably Russophobic CBC “news” as I read this.

    • Baalbek

      The Canadian FM Chrystia Freeland (not her given name) is an ally of Ukrainian fascists. Her grandfather, whom she publically adores, was a leading Ukrainian Nazi propagandist in the Second World War. This is an indisputable fact but PM Trudeau and every major news outlet in Canada claim this is a “Russian smear”.

    • Ross

      We can be certain it went like this

      1. Porton Down told they need to make a sample of a Novichok available ASAP

      2. That sample is offered to the OPCW as being collected from Salisbury

      In a way the folks at Port n’ Lemon have screwed up in that the sample they provided to help perpetrate this deception was of high purity, so bang goes the explanation that the reason the Skripals didn’t snuff it was because this was a weaker or low purity Novichok.

      • Ross

        Scratch that. I actually thought based on the MSM reports that the OPCW had actually identified a Novichok. LOL that’ll teach me to watch that rubbish. A ‘toxic chemical’ of ‘high purity’ I mean that could be almost anything. What utter bullshit. Why aren’t the media asking questions like ‘why is the actual identity of the chemical classified?’ Talk about fake news.

          • Tom Welsh

            Or maybe iodine? Or Vitamin A? Most nutrients are toxic in high enough doses (Paracelsus’ Rule).

            People have died (and not so rarely) from drinking too much water.

            So the term “a toxic chemical” is literally meaningless. Everything in the universe is “a chemical”, in that it is made up of chemical elements (sometimes in the form of chemical compounds).

            And “the dose makes the poison”. So virtually anything could be a poison… (although a few substances such as astatine and plutonium are unlikely to be health-giving in any measurable quantities).

        • Kempe

          If you bother to read the report the OPCW took samples from the Skripals, DS Bailey and various locations themselves. they agreed with Porton Down’s analysis and their conclusion was that is was a nerve agent.

          • Ophelia Ball

            no, that’s not what they concluded: the report notes that it was an ALLEGED nerve agent and that they agreed that it was a toxic chemical

            can you see the difference there? Tomatoes are red, but not all red things are tomatoes.

          • GoAwayAndShutUp

            @ Kempe: False. The memo didn’t use the verb TAKE for a reason. Instead it use COLLECT.

            4. “The team was able to collect blood samples from the three affected individuals under full chain of custody for delivery to the OPCW…”

            I’m not a native speaker. Maybe somebody can help me. When you go to a laboratory for a CDC test the technician “collects” a blood sample or “takes” it?

            In the case of point 4, the memo says that there was a “…full chain of custody FOR DELIVERY to the OPCW…”

          • Yonatan

            @GoAwayAndShutUp wrote:

            “@ Kempe: False. The memo didn’t use the verb TAKE for a reason. Instead it use COLLECT”

            My understanding is that the blood samples were ‘taken’ by a suitably qualified phlebotomist in the presence of an OPCW representative. This representative then ‘collected’ the samples from the phlebotomist. It is highly unlikely that OPCW personel are qualified to take blood samples themselves but are capable of taking environmental samples.

          • GoAwayAndShutUp

            @Yonatan

            If that was the case why not write it explicitly. That, together with the “toxic chemical” thing that will be kept secret make everything the whole thing not credible.

        • Spaull

          I would have thought that was obvious.

          If it was novichok, there is no reason why the OPCW would not say it was.

          We can therefore conclude:

          1. The OPCW determined that it is not novichok.
          2. Following intense debate around the flexibility of the words “or related agent” in the Porton Down analysis, a formula was agreed by which the OPCW avoided branding Theresa May a liar.
          3. However, Russia has the proof of her lies now, so that is why Theresa has suddenly become less keen on her little war.

          What do you think? Does that chain of logic hang together?

          Either way, I am pretty angry at the MSM claiming the OPCW had confirmed it was novichok when they were at such pains not to do so.

    • SeaGreen

      Re Red Cross Visit. Would result in a confidential report to HMG. Clearly a humane thing to do and so correct but would yield no public info.

  • Adrian

    “Sir, Further to your report (‘Poison exposure leaves almost 40 needing treatment’), may I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury and there have only ever been three patients with significant poisoning. Several people have attended the emergency department concerned that they may have been exposed. None has had symptoms of poisoning and none has needed treatment. Any blood tests performed have shown no abnormality. No member of the public has been contaminated by the agent involved.

    STEPHEN DAVIES Consultant in emergency medicine, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust”

    Times of London, March 14, 2018

    As the OPCW itself only confirms a “toxic chemical” and does not confirm presence of a “nerve agent” it is time for someone to learn more from Mr. Davies about what’s really happened in Salisbury/

    • CanSpeccy

      “it is time for someone to learn more from Mr. Davies about what’s really happened in Salisbury”

      Yes, that no journalist appears to have attempted to learn more from Dr. Davies reveals the contemptible state of British journalism.

      Meantime Thereason May has, apparently, decided to follow in the footsteps of Tony B. Liar and go to war in the basis of an obvious pack of lies. But she’s going a step beyond Blair by setting Britain up for a war with Russia too.

      Those whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad, a point well made with reference to Britain’s lunatic stand on Syria by Peter Ford, former UK ambassador to Syria.

  • Iain Crawford

    Some nit-picking
    Last sentence of the OPCW report
    12 “The name and structure of the identified toxic chemical are contained in the full
    classified report of the Secretariat, available to States Parties”
    This implies they know the name of this particular toxic chemical but are not saying – Why
    ( To avoid embarrassment possibly?)-
    Presumably it can’t be “Novichock” as this is the west assigned name of a class of chemicals
    (e.g. Acid, Vitamin, Amine etc)
    Also it is one thing to find and identify a chemical – How do they know 100% it is toxic?)

    • Ophelia Ball

      According to the Russian Foreign Ministry news briefing going on as I type this, the Russians have not yet received the “Confidential” version of the OPCW report

      • Yonatan

        I suspect the OPCW will be pressured into not handing a confidential copy over to Russia. In that case, I would imagine that Russia would get a look at some other country’s copy, or some other country could accidentally leak the information eg via WikiLeaks

    • Paul

      OPCW confirms the findings made by Porton Down, so the chemical should be the one codenamed as A234. The OPCW talks about having environmental samples. The unchanged chemical may be expected to be present therein, so most likely the OPCW-labs managed to fully indentfy the chemical. Based on the structure of the chemical its high toxicity can reliably be predicted (belongs to class of organophophates, similarity to known nerve agents in this class).

      • TJ

        The OPCW have confirmed that the substance tested to be the same as what the UK government told the OPCW it was, which we don’t know, it could have been completely different to what the government has told us. This aligns with the end of the summary that they aren’t naming the substance or its chemical composition i.e. not Novichok. Do I have to correct everyone in this thread on simple English language comprehension?

      • IM

        Hang on, Porton Down said it was “of” “Novichok family” or a “related agent;” where exactly did you see a confirmation in the note released by OPCW that it was A-234?

      • JK

        They don’t know themselves that the chemicals published by Vil Mirzayanov and called Novichoks are toxic. They’re just taking for granted that said chemicals are toxic because Mirzayanov said they are and assume it’s what caused the medical breakdown of the Skripals and Bailey.

        • IM

          Perhaps the Skripals were Porton Down’s lab-rats and it turns out the chemicals described are duds, given how quickly the policeman recovered?..

    • A Biochemist Writes

      “Also it is one thing to find and identify a chemical – How do they know 100% it is toxic?”

      Good question. The only way they can know for sure is to obtain/synthesis pure chemical and test it on cell systems and/or animals.

      Toxicology testing methodologies are well established and understood by the scientific community.

      All this report tells us is that they agree with PD on the identity of the chemical. My guess is that it is not a nerve agent, since these are so swiftly and surely lethal that the well publicised delays in a) its action on the victims b) their transfer to hospital, suggests otherwise – unless of course it was known ahead of time precisely what, where and when (and by whom?) it was administered , and an antidote was immediately available – and even then??

      The fact that OPCW have stated that it is “very pure” merely emphasises the above; the fact that no-one has yet told us precisely what the chemical is adds to suspicions that something seriously dodgy is going on.

      In any case all OPCW tells us is that what was given to them by the authorities is identical to what the authorities said it was.

      This logical tautology adds nothing to our understanding of what actually went on.

      The key to ensuring that this would pass the test of criminal liability would require that such samples were forensically obtained, secured, marked, transported and tested.

      Given that all this was open to interference by those who might wish to confound the issue (if it involved ‘friendly’ state actors) would not impress this scientist as to the integrity of the overall process.

      • SD

        question:

        Who gave them sample? Did they take it from the site or it was given to them?

        • Spaull

          My understanding is that the report confirms that OPCW had a satisfactory chain of custody in this case.

          So I think they got what was in the Skripals. But from the lengths they went to not to say it was novichok, I firmly believe it was not.

          • SD

            Thanks for clarifying.

            However, I still do not understand was it an nerve agent or toxic substance or toxic substance can be nerve agent. I am not chemist but words used are not very clear to me.

          • Spaull

            @SD I can’t help on that, I’m afraid. My background is as a lawyer, so I am used to looking for what is wrong with evidence. But that background leads me to ascribe significance to the fact that the report carefully does not refer to a nerve agent.

          • SD

            @Spaull

            If this is the case, it will be interesting to see if Russia will get copy of the report and/or find out exact substance. If neither is truth, it looks like shady business from OPCW side.

      • Intp1

        Or what abut an enzyme assay?
        If you had stock of Acetylcholinesterase you could prove
        Impact on the substrate kinetics pretty quickly. From which you could imply that type of toxicity.

  • Joe Emersberger

    Why wouldn’t the OPCW identify the chemical with much more precision in its executive summary?
    Instead the OPCW summary “confirmed” the always slippery UK official line of “Novichuk family”, “or closely related agent”.
    Looks to me like OPCW caved to pressure from UK and its allies get their spin on the findings out first.

    • Iain Crawford

      Instead the OPCW summary “confirmed” the always slippery UK official line of “Novichuk family”, “or closely related agent”.
      Assuming I looked at the same report
      Couldn’t see any mention of “Novichuk family”, “or closely related agent” .

      it just says they “confirm the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical” .
      Which looks like it could be a half truth.

      • Joe Emersberger

        I should have been more clear. UK officials have always used slippery langue “of a type developed by Russia”, “or closely related agent” was wording (or very close to it, going by memory” in the high court ruling granting access to blood samples.
        OPCW summary “confirms” what was always deliberately vague from the UK.
        Why not just name the chemical with precision?

        • Black Joan

          Becuase the actual name would be an embarrassment and refutation of the official story?

          • Joe Emersberger

            If the OPCW had indeed named one of the chemical formulations that were known loosely as “Novichuks” then that would confirm one important part of the UK government’s story. The discussion could then move one to where the stuff came from and exactly who can produce it in non-lethal doses. If, however, the main body specifies some kind of Novichuk knock-off (i.e “closely related agent”) or hedges on that point then the UK government story will have suffered another blow. The major blow it received (thus far) in my view is the recovery of the Skripals as revealed in that infamous phone call to Russia..

  • EoH

    The media has already misinterpreted this report to suggest that the UK was correct in assigning blame to Russia – as General Turgidson would say – before all the facts are in. Herman and Chomsky might say that consent is being manufactured.

    • EoH

      The Guardian, for one, Huffingtonpost, for another, go all in to say that OPCW report confirms the UK government’s claims.

      The Guardian quotes the OPCW summary’s paragraph that uses the term, “toxic chemical”. It says that the name and structure were in the more detailed government report. But it omits what information the Guardian relies on to bridge the gap and announce to the world that it was a “novichok” nerve agent.

  • VanZandt

    Again,
    this report only confirms that Porton Down DOES have the substance (either as antidote or to contaminate the blood).

  • Mrs Rita Irvine

    BBC is just a state apparatus for tha Tory gov. I just love the way you clarify everything because your so intelligent, please keep holding this government to account. The last few years has felt like Macarthism, reds under the bed.

  • EoH

    The “toxic chemical” language was artfully chosen, offering support to the UK for the casual reader of headlines, while technically distancing itself from it. Safe to say that this report was not written by the same lawyer bureaucrat who gave us Ms. Skripal’s latest press release.

  • TJ

    The OPCW have confirmed that the substance tested to be the same as what the UK government told the OPCW it was, which we don’t know, it could have been completely different to what the government has told us. This aligns with the end of the summary that they aren’t naming the substance or its chemical composition i.e. not Novichok.

  • IM

    The report doesn’t say how the purity of the samples OPCW’s technical assistants have taken compare to that of the control samples Britain(?) has provided…

  • Ophelia Ball

    [ MOD: Caught in the spam-filter ]

    This is off-topic, and if it gets moderated out, I will fully understand why

    1. Are you guys familiar with this video, showing Syrian kids being trained how to fake the consequences of a chemical attack?

    2. The Russians appear to be taking the threat of an all-out nuclear showdown quite seriously: https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-04-12/russian-tv-instructs-citizens-how-prepare-bomb-shelters-nuclear-war

    apologies for the distraction, but I thought these two were noteworthy in the broader context

  • Madeira

    A lot of premature comments here since none of us knows what is in the “full” report which identifies the “toxic chemical” in question. We can be confident that if this is not “Novichok” the Russians will let us know once they receive their copy.

    So for the moment I think we should assume that it is indeed Novichok, which of course doesn’t tell us the source but would appear to eliminate other alternative scenarious (food poisoning, etc.).

    Also, one shouldn’t make too much (anything) of the fact that the OPCW report did not identify the source of the toxic chemical. This was not in its remit, and it was said well in advance that it would not do so. So no point in making arguments that won’t hold up, particularly when there remain many that will,.

    • IM

      Except that this is precisely what the Russians were up in arms about- they are excluded from this report- the UK went out of their way to not let the Russians have any samples or be involved in OPCW’s testing *at all* in this case!

      • Madeira

        They were excluded from the testing, but they will receive a full copy of the “State” report where the name and chemical structure is identified. If the toxic chemical so identified is not Novichok, the Russians willcertainly let us all know very quickly. But my guess is that it is, which of course does not give us any proof (or even probability) of where it came from.

    • Ophelia Ball

      ‘I think we should assume that it is indeed Novichok’

      why? are the OPCW not capable of uttering this word themselves? To be honest, I think the reluctance to identify the toxic chemical in the published report suggests that it may perhaps not be ‘Novichok’

      • Madeira

        My guess: because “novichok” is not a technical name that they recognise, it is a descriptive title. But I come back to the same point — they are not hiding anything permanently, only until the Russians get their copy of the full report. Arguing that they are being deceptive is completely premature at this stage.

          • Madeira

            Because they are a State Member of the OPCW and the report is being made available to all State Members. If they don’t get it, they will let us know.

          • IM

            @Madeira,
            Where in the Note does it say the distribution is to Member States cf. Parties to the “Investigation”?

          • Bayard

            Madiera, the word “all” has been added by you. It does not occur in para 12, which merely states that “The name and structure of the identified toxic chemical are contained in the full classified report of the Secretariat, available to States Parties. ”, which is true even if Russia has been excluded from the distribution.

      • Andrew Mills

        No, the CONVENTION ON THE PROHIBITION OF THE DEVELOPMENT, PRODUCTION, STOCKPILING AND USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS AND ON THEIR DESTRUCTION has an ANNEX ON THE PROTECTION OF CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION (“CONFIDENTIALITY ANNEX”). Ergo, it’s part of their protocol not to release this information!

    • rob

      but it’s classified, can the Russians ignore their obligations to the OPCW and reveal classified information? I suspect not.

      • Madeira

        I can assure you that if the toxic chemical identified is not novichok, the Russians will take the risk to let us know. The “classified” information will be the actual chemical structure, so it would be no problem for the Russians to state “the toxic chemical identified by the OPCW is not what is known in the ‘literature’ as ‘novichok’.”

          • Madeira

            Because paragraph 12 tells us that “The name and structure of the identified toxic chemical are contained in the full
            classified report of the Secretariat, available to States Parties.” Russia is a State Party, and I am sure they will ask for a copy, and in the event this is (illegally) refused they will certainly let us know.

          • IM

            @Madeira,
            Do you understand the difference between Member State and State Parties? “Parties” in this case refers to the parties of the investigation of this specific instance, Russia has been expressly excluded.

          • RAC

            Well call me paranoid but when Russia does get its copy of the report I’d like them to compare it word for word with the copies sent to other states. At this point I wouldn’t trust May any further than I could throw her.

  • TJ

    Russia has not received the full classified OPCW report. Mistake or deliberate omission by OPCW so Russia cannot respond with facts?

        • Madeira

          Russia is a member of the OPCW, the OPCW can’t refuse to give them a copy. And if they did, we will know this and it would be the best proof in the world that there is a high-level cover up.

          Don’t get me wrong, I am positive that the Russian State did not do this, I just don’t believe it’s useful to seize on points that can be, and will be, easily refuted in the relatively near future.

          • IM

            So to your mind “Member States” and “State Parties” are the same thing? And based on that patently fallacious inference you’re making a whole bunch of other guesses?

          • Bayard

            If you are correct, it’s difficult to see how the UK government can get round that. I think it is safe to assume that the poison is not Novichok, given that there is no good reason for the OPCW not to say it was in their executive summary, and plenty of good reasons for them to do so. So, if they have said it wasn’t Novichok in the secret report and the Russians demand a copy of that report, the UK government is faced with the choice of either refusing to let them have a copy or somehow altering the report to accord with their version of events, in which case the OPCW will either have to be kept in ignorance (almost impossible), or silenced.

  • John Goss

    A summary of the report (which is classified) is given here.

    https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/S_series/2018/en/s-1612-2018_e_.pdf

    To my mind it raises more questions because it appears, if I understand it correctly, that the OPCW doctors did not take blood samples from the Skripals themselves. The relied on samples provided by us:

    “4. The team was able to collect blood samples from the three affected individuals under
    full chain of custody for delivery to the OPCW Laboratory and subsequent analysis
    by OPCW designated laboratories, and conducted identification of the three
    individuals against official photo-ID documents.
    5. The team was able to conduct on-site sampling of environmental samples under full
    chain of custody at sites identified as possible hot-spots of residual contamination.
    Samples were returned to the OPCW Laboratory for subsequent analysis by OPCW
    designated laboratories.
    6. The team requested and received splits of samples taken by British authorities for
    delivery to the OPCW Laboratory in Rijswijk, the Netherlands, and subsequent
    analysis by OPCW designated laboratories. This was done for comparative purposes
    and to verify the analysis of the United Kingdom.”

    The repeated term “under full chain of custody” probably means that the Brits supplied the samples and after that the OPCW ensured that they were not tampered with. This raises the question whether they were tampered with before they entered the custody of the OPCW. They really should have taken independent blood samples. My main suspicion points to CIA/MI6 involvement.

    Furthermore the Skripals’ welfare is of utmost concern. We need to hear from them, not a statement of what they allegedly said from Scotland Yard.

    • Lokyc

      Hmm, I had a quick glance-through and felt there was contradiction between points 4 and 6. And a further comment that stuck to my mind which I will elaborate further. Thank you for posting and I have now taken a better look. Point 4 mentions the OPCW team collecting blood samples. But that is for identification purposes. the samples for testing of poisoning are provided by the UK. So the veracity of it, and whether it has been tampered at source cannot be ascertained.
      We really have to pick the brains of chemical weapons experts like the Prof from Cornell University etc on this. But I do wonder about this point regarding purity. I mean do they look for other metabolites from lower purity samples which could only come from backyard synthesis? Or does it mean, it is fresh and pure like out of its container. Which then begs the question, where could this pure sample come from? Free from environmental contamination given that the door knobs were exposed to a few days of rain. The victims if suspected of Hazchem poisoning, will be hosed down straightaway as standard decontamination procedure. Remember, no medical staff were affected. Including the attending paramedics.

      • Spaull

        I have read this differently. As I see it, we have:

        1. Samples taken by OPCW with full chain of custody of the OPCW throughout.
        2. Samples taken previously by the UK of which the OPCW were given splits, so that they could test those AS WELL AS the samples for which they had a full chain of custody.

        And I do not agree that the OPCW samples were for the purposes of identity only.

        We have enough material with the failure to state that the substance was novichok that we don’t need to raise questions on chain of custody where the OPCW has explicitly said it was satisfactory.

      • Intp1

        I take it that there are known impurities from the 2 component reaction. Alternate & side reactions other than those that achieve the specific target molecule perhaps isomers that have the same formula but different spatial structures. In order to purify the target molecule there would be various stages of purification. Chromatographic or ultra diafiltration etc. The kitchen sinks that would contaminate from e.g. the paint on the front door could be ignored when looking for such specific, expected impurities. But we dont know.

    • Kempe

      No. Full chain of custody means exactly what it says. That the OPCW took the samples themselves and delivered them securely to the lab. in the Netherlands. They also re-tested the samples taken by Porton down.

      It’s quite clear.

      • John Goss

        No it is not. It would only be clear to someone wishing to misdirect. They did not, or at least it does not specifically say they did, take blood samples themselves. The verb used is collect not take.

        • Kempe

          ” The team was able to collect blood samples from the three affected individuals under
          full chain of custody for delivery to the OPCW Laboratory and subsequent analysis
          by OPCW designated laboratories, and conducted identification of the three
          individuals against official photo-ID documents. ”

          I don’t think it could be any clearer. Once again you’re nit-picking about technical language and trying to read something into the statement which isn’t there.

          • Lokyc

            As I said, that para was referring to blood collection for the purposes of identification. For the toxin testing, it was from samples provided by the UK. The samples provided have safe custody. But we cannot verify the samples are taken directly from the victims. Read para 6.

          • kbbucks

            I tend to disagree with you here.
            The blood samples were from the three affected individual, the team collected these samples under full chain of custody. Where did they collect the samples and where did the full chain of custody begin? Using ‘collect’ here changes the whole dynamic of that statement and it’s not clear whether the team was present when the samples were taken or whether they collected them elsewhere some time later.

          • Lokych

            While it could be the case indeed kbbucks. When you look further into it, the toxin was identified through biomedical and environmental samples. Not from blood per se. It could include blood. But if it was just blood, they would have said that too. To me, it could just be pedantry. BUt as Lagurre mention in a later post, it is unlikely the blood would have the actual compound. The body naturally breaks down toxins rapidly and expell it out. That’s why we use urine and hair samples to determine if someone has been drugged or taken drugs rather than from blood per se. So maybe the blood really is good only for identification purposes. And of course, there is your point about collect and take. Someone takes the blood and you collect it from that person. That’s what we do in hospitals. I take the blood from the patient. Porters collect it for the lab. Semantics. Pedantry. But the devil is always in these details.

      • Spaull

        I disagree with much of what you say on this site, but on this point I agree with you.

    • Laguerre

      In any case blood samples, if taken from live people, as the specialists are telling us, will not have traces of the original poison but of breakdown products. The most identifiable part being the impurities, while the OPCW states that the original product was exceptionally pure, and had virtually no impurities. Which means they will have got very little out of the blood samples.

      • MightyDrunken

        Totally agree, I doubt there would be any of the original poison left in the victims at the time the OPCW took samples. I also suspect that any breakdown products would have long gone by then as well. Therefore I would assume that any blood samples that did have traces of the poison were taken earlier, before the OPCW arrived.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    Based on the summsry released for public consumption:

    1) OPCW confirms that acetylcholineesterase status had been measured on the three patients (as they obtained information on what that status was), suggesting that whatever the toxic chemical was, it affected the acetylcholineesterase enzyme, which is the target of nerve agents in general and Novichoks in particular. It would be most unusual to mention such matters if ACE activity in all three patients were at all times normal, since that would completely invalidate the Uk assertion that Novichok was the agent discovered.
    2) OPCW confirms that whatever may or may not have happened to the Skripals, medical treatments were administered. Thus either OPCW are pathological liars in cahoots with UK doctors breaking the Hippocratic Oath, or the claim that neither Skripal were poisoned in any way is refuted.
    3) OPCW confirm that both biomedical and environmental sample collection, handling and analysis took place under full chain of custody, eliminating the ability to spike samples, but not eliminating the possibility of prior spiking of patients’ blood through intraveneous injection or drips, nor the planting of evidence days before by unknown nefarious parties.
    4) Patient ID was carried out using photo IDs, not DNA typing, reducing- but not completely eliminating the possibility of photo doubles having been used.
    5) Original samples analysed by Uk authorities were also examined, which confirmed that labs in Holland and in the UK work to similarly high professional standards.
    6) Analysts analysed whether a specified toxic chemical was present within samples, they did not carry out blind analyses to determine what toxic chemical was actually present. Based on that knowledge the OPCW labs confirmed that UK labs can do forensic chemistry properly.
    7) The OPCW labs confirmed exposure of all three patients to the toxic chemical. This also implies that the half life of that toxic chemical in human blood would be measured in days or weeks, not hours, since otherwise no succesful analysis would haven taken place on the new samples taken by OPCW. Ditto the half life at the environmental sites analysed. Thisisinteresting as Znovichoksare supposed to be destroyed by rain, so one assumes that the key sample sites were protected from rainfall at all times.
    8) The analysis of impurities suggests that the manufacturing protocol of this toxic chemical is either known or inferred, since OPCW knew what impurities to look for based on known impurities found in presumed precursors and solvents used during manufacture and purification.
    9) OPCW does not wish to reveal the formula of the toxic chemical, which could be to avoid embarassment of British Ministers, it could be a compound not widely known outside specialist circles or it could be to avoid copy cat acts by nasty groupings worldwide.

    Three questions remain:

    1) Does the UK Government have effective antidotes to Novichoks? Will they share such knowledge with OPCW?
    2) If the toxic chemical were a Novichok, why did OPCW not confirm that explicitly (they would not be revealing formulae after all)?
    3) Does the OPCW have specific knowledge of parties outside Russia capable of synthesising the toxic chemical identified?

    • IM

      As to (3)- they most certainly do: Iran synthesised something from the A-23x family under OPCW’s supervision a while back (but I don’t know if they did so successfully). If Iran has, and the USA must have (by inference, given that the Soviet chemist who “told the world” about “Novichok” lives Stateside), others must have too, including the UK and the rest of the “five eyes”- I’d be most surprised if such vital chemical knowledge wasn’t shared out between the clique! Now, if Iran has, there’s all the likelihood that Israel at least tried, given Mossad’s interest in protecting Israel it’s not a giant logical leap to think that Israel would be working on a way to protect self from the possibility of attack with anything from that family of toxins. So, it’s more of a “who else” and not “can anyone else”.

    • CanSpeccy

      “1) OPCW confirms that acetylcholineesterase status had been measured on the three patients (as they obtained information on what that status was), suggesting that whatever the toxic chemical was, it affected the acetylcholineesterase enzyme, which is the target of nerve agents in general and Novichoks in particular.

      Lots of things inhibit the activity of acetylcholineesterase. Caffeine for instance. So low activity of this enzyme is in no way diagnostic of exposure to a chemical warfare agent.

    • Phil Espin

      Re your 4, If Russia had access to the samples they would be able to confirm if they were indeed from the Skripal’s by DNA testing and comparison with samples from Viktoria and her grandmother. Has OPCW asked for such verification from Russia? If not why not?

    • Lokyc

      Ahh Rhys, you addressed my query regarding the purity and source of samples. Where could they have got them from since the door handle was exposed to rain, and the victims surely hosed down and no medical staff were affected.
      Furthermore, cholinesterase can be affected by simple pesticide.

    • Robert Pettitt

      I have been struggling to find any evidence that the Skripals were exposed to any agent – this being a normal false flag with massive Hollywood-style overkill media messages. Now, the OPCW short report suggests that an agent was actually found in samples taken from the patients by OPCW staff with full forensic procedures. If it is true that it is possible to spike the patient prior to sampling, I hope that the Skripals’ contract with MI6 warned them this might be necessary to continue the deception!

  • rob

    I think you are being very generous saying they confirmed the identity of the chemical, since we don’t really know what porton down said, the language has always been deliberately vague. in the public report the language is also vague, it mentions a chemical, but only -allegedly a nerve agent-

    • CanSpeccy

      “I think you are being very generous saying they confirmed the identity of the chemical”

      Yes, and if the poison were an inhibitor of acetylcholine release, for example, botulinum toxin, a common cause of food poisoning, then low acetylcholine esterase activity in patient blood samples could be indicative of treatment with an inhitior of acetylcholine esterase activity as described here, not of the action of an acetylcholine esterase inhibitor, aka, nerve agent.

      • CanSpeccy

        That didn’t come out quite right.

        The point is that botulinum toxin, a common cause of food poisoning, inhibits acetylcholine release at the neuromuscular junction, thereby causing paralysis. It has been proposed therefore (see link in my previous comment) to treat botulinum poisoning with an acetylcholine esterase inhibitor, i.e., something that works in the same way as Novichok.

        So, if the Skripals were suffering from botulism, due to the prawns they had for lunch, perhaps, they may have had a low acetylcholine esterase activity due to medical treatment by an inhibitor of that enzyme, i.e., a nerve agent.

  • Republicofscotland

    The OPCW can’t say where the chemical arose, however the smears and innuendo are already out there carried by the western establishment press, that Russia did it.

    Anyone who disagree’s with western narrative is a terrorist loving commie, or conspiraloon.

    The salivating lickspittles are drooling at the thought of bombing Syria, in another manufactured attempt to go to war with Assad.

  • Sam

    I’m not a chemist, but I struggle to understand how something can be almost completely pure when it has come from a door knocker or come from a blood sample.

    • IM

      I suspect that that line was insisted upon by the UK. Or maybe it was “re-applied” just prior to the sampling 😉

    • Tom Welsh

      Well, it would be very pure once Porton Down purified it. (Or, indeed, made it).

      It puzzles and distresses me that the British government has told us the “substance” was a novichok, and that it is 8-10 times more deadly than VX (which, of course, was created at Porton Down).

      And now OPCW tells us that it is very pure.

      And yet three people poisoned with it have all recovered!

      It seems exceedingly merciful of the Russians to create a nerve agent that, rather than killing anyhone, merely renders them unconscious for a number of days – after which they return to normal.

      In the intervening period, of course, Russia would have conquered wherever, collected all the prostrate bodies, and hospitalised them. So they will wake up conquered, but comfortably tucked up in nice crisp sheets being well looked after.

      So much kinder and more Christian than the American or British way of war, involving as that does napalm, white phosphorus, and tactical nuclear weapons.

    • artful dodger

      I was puzzled by the purity statement also.
      Sounds as if Porton Down gave the OPCW a clear glass vial containing a 99.9% clear liquid that was found to be pure Novichok?
      The “Guy” from Porton Down said “Yeah mate, we just found it glooped on the door knob like that and just capped it in the vial!”
      Wonder how long the report is supposed to stay classified for?

      • Robert

        I think the “purity” is with respect to similar compounds, not to dissimilar substances like water or sugar or the rest of what’s normally in blood.

  • N_

    The OPCW’s analysis of the samples they took confirms “the findings of the (UK) relating to the identity of the toxic chemical (…) used in Salisbury”.

    1) The OPCW is not competent to assert that any chemical was used in Salisbury. All they are competent to do is to collect their own samples and analyse them, to analyse the samples they got from the British authorities, to read the British analyses, and to compare. Oh and to check people’s identities against photo ID.

    2) Why the circumlocution “findings relating to the identity”?

  • Republicofscotland

    As Macron grovels to the Saudi’s, and backs May and Trump on bombing Syria, the cool headed Merkel, has said that Germany will play no part in bombing Syria.

    Which is maybe just as well, because Russia appears to be well, equipped in Syria to handle a military strike, well according to this it is.

    https://www.rt.com/news/423925-russia-air-defense-syria/

    It might not be as easy as Trump and et al think in removing Assad.

  • Carole Wooster

    ‘…The OPCW confirm the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical’ – surely this means that OPCW agree with the UK government that the chemical used was a Novichok

    • fred

      Novichok isn’t on the OPCW schedules, it was discussed in 2013 but no agreement reached, it’s a term the media and the public use to mean a nerve agent made from mixing substances which aren’t banned. It means nothing to a scientist because there is no consensus on exactly what it means, what Britain told OPCW it was would mean nothing to any of the public who don’t have a degree in chemistry.

    • TJ

      The OPCW have confirmed that the substance tested to be the same as what the UK government told the OPCW it was, which we don’t know, it could have been completely different to what the government has told us. This aligns with the end of the summary that they aren’t naming the substance or its chemical composition i.e. not Novichok. Do I have to correct everyone in this thread on simple English language comprehension? FFS!

    • N_

      The OPCW is not competent to say what chemical was or was not used. They weren’t in Salisbury on 4 March.

    • Ophelia Ball

      how so?

      it is not clear that the OPCW is agreeing with the UK government – merely with Porton Down. If you can simply extrapolate like that, then why not also assert that the OPCW has agreed with the UK Government about what happened in Eastern Ghouta? Well, that would be absurd and, in the absence of the full report into the Salisbury incident, I think we need to be fairly circumspect before drawing too many conclusions

      The published report says “alleged nerve agent” and “toxic chemical” : it does not say “nerve agent”, “Novichok”, “as developed in Russia” or “Putin dunnit”, all of which form part of the UK Government’s assertions

    • Dan

      When the OPCW says it agrees with the UK, it is being deliberately vague: does it agree with Porton Down or with the UK government, each of whom holds a critically different position?

  • Michael McNulty

    I suspect Russia will not be given a copy of the final confidential report because in their defense they could release it.

    • N_

      In that scenario the reason for WW3 will be kept secret, in order to help one side maintain its intelligence capability (or is it their intellectual property?) The catch? That side may turn out to be the losing side.

    • Lokyc

      They will be. but not immediately. we have to think what’s the end game. Surely its not to pick a war with Russia. UK has everything to lose. the Europeans will fold straightaway because they will be caught in-between. As the Syrian situation shows, it is more likely to justify conflict there. Its all about being able to invoke military action without a parliarmentary vote. Once forces are deployed, the conflict gets more mired, objective achieved. when it turns out it may nor may not be Russia in Salisbury, new blood will be spilt. new feuds will be forged. New reasons to be in conflict. Who cared about Archduke Ferdinand after the first shots were fired?

  • bj

    Et tu, RT?

    Even RT carries a Reuters report that “The OPCW has confirmed the UK’s conclusions about the type of nerve agent used in the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, but provided no new evidence to back up Britain’s claim that Russia was to blame for the attack. ”

    They did NOT conclude “Nerve agent” in the report that was made public (the PDF). (What is in the classified report nobody knows.)

    • CanSpeccy

      And anyway, as noted above, if the Skripal’s were suffering from food poisoning, they may have been treated with a nerve agent to relieve the paralysis. Who knows,but if the Salisbury Trust Hospital sought advice from Porton Down, they may even have been supplied with a some Novichok as an antidote to botulism.

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