Moscow says it has proof that the agent used in the UK attack is a chemical weapon patented in the US. So was this a covert operation aimed at ratcheting up tensions between the West and Russia?
The sensational case of the poisoning of the ex-MI6 agent and former Russian military intelligence colonel Sergei Skripal on March 4 in Salisbury, in the UK, is becoming more and more curious. Under a blinding spotlight from Moscow, the British allegation regarding a Russian hand in the poisoning of Skripal is getting exposed. An engrossing plot in big-power politics is also unfolding. There is stuff here for a Le Carre novel.
Are we witnessing a replay of the false flag Gulf of Tonkin attack of August 1964, the imaginary “incident” concocted by the US military to provide legal and political justification for deploying American forces in South Vietnam and for commencing open warfare against North Vietnam?
To recap, Britain alleged without any empirical evidence that a military grade nerve agent of a type known as Novichok was used in Salisbury, saying it was originally developed in the former Soviet Union, and therefore, Moscow’s hand – possibly, even President Vladimir Putin’s hand – was “highly likely”.
Moscow has maintained, on the other hand, that it had destroyed all its chemical weapons and an Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) investigation verified and testified to that.
The British allegation quickly morphed into a large-scale expulsion of Russian diplomats (over 100 of them) by western capitals, under heavy pressure from Washington and London. The US alone expelled 60 Russian diplomats, while Britain expelled 23.
Egg on May’s face
Britain is studiously ignoring the Russian requests for samples of the chemical agent used in the Salisbury attack and for consular access to be granted to the former spy’s daughter Yulia. Meanwhile, Britain instead approached the OPCW to investigate.
The OPCW has now responded that it cannot identify the country of origin of the chemical agent used in the Salisbury attack.
There is egg on PM Theresa May’s face.
However, Russians managed to get their hands on the report prepared for the OPCW by its reputed laboratory in Spiez, the Swiss Center for Radiology and Bacteriological Analysis. According to the Swiss lab’s report, the chemical formula used in the Salisbury attack has been in service in the US, the UK and other NATO countries. Furthermore, neither the Soviet Union nor Russia “ever developed or stockpiled similar chemical weapons.”
That’s more egg on May’s face.