Tag Archives: Leonard Rink

Does it taste like chicken?

There is an issue, again. It is the same we saw earlier but in a new coat. As I stated on more than one occasion, the entire Salisbury issue with Novichok’s was extremely unlikely to be state driven. Now, with the second event, that evidence is all but a near conclusion. ABC gives us (at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-07-05/uk-police-confirm-couple-poisoned-by-nerve-agent-novichok/9942662) ‘poisoned by nerve agent Novichok’. The quote “Police said there was no evidence they had visited the same sites that were decontaminated after the Skripal case “I have received test results from Porton Down [military research centre] which show that the two people have been exposed to the nerve agent Novichok,” Neil Basu, Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, told reporters“. Now first off Novichok is not a poison, or agent. It is a class of agents. This is important to realise when we consider this. Jonathan Tucker in the 2006 publication of ‘War of Nerves: Chemical Warfare from World War I to Al-Qaeda‘ gives us that it is a binary formulation (it needs two components to mix, but we all already knew that), it is just too dangerous and unstable. We also get that a number of Novichok variants are believed to have been adapted for military use. So it is not one poison, there is a group of them and even as merely one was used (a speculation at present) there are more. The additional information that was published in 2016: ‘Iranian chemists identify Russian chemical warfare agents‘, which we got from http://www.spectroscopynow.com/details/ezine/1591ca249b2/Iranian-chemists-identify-Russian-chemical-warfare-agents.html. You see, the problem was already clear in the previous attack. The fact that the media largely overlooked the 1995 event where banker Ivan Kivelidi was poisoned could be set as evidence. In addition, Leonard Rink received a one-year suspended sentence for selling Novichok agents to unnamed buyers. All the evidence that was ignored of was kept quiet in Salisbury was an issue and in my eyes a big one. Now, this does not absolve the Russian government, especially when they can rely on Russian hitman JJones (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kg_BMAZLGk) to do the job.

Now you might get a giggle out of that one and it gives you the situation that is actually in play, or was in play. Even in the old days of the Союз Советских Социалистических Республик, where the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti was waving a sceptre, they were a little too pragmatic most of the times. Now that they call themselves the Федеральная служба безопасности Российской Федерации (FSB) the have merely become even more pragmatic (as it is rumoured), so the entire consideration of Novichok agents was never impossible, yet massively unlikely as this requires too many parts, too many players and too much can go wrong.

The entire setting that we had initially was just too weird, too much effort to get to a person that never mattered to the degree required and the fact that the ‘hit’ failed made it even weirder.

You see, a state government might do it, yet it better not fail. Now we have a second setting and this is of course a nightmare for the police, let’s face it, no one wants this, not even Russia, if they wanted this than they would have wanted it on the other side of the Atlantic river (USA).

The quote that follows in the ABC is ““The working theory is currently that this exposure was accidental, rather than a second attack along the lines of that on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury earlier this year,” Mr Javid said” and I tend to agree. It could be left over materials form the first event, which makes it important to find out whether the materials were the same and more important is there any way to figure out how the toxins were administered, because that matters too.

My initial view (which was purely speculative) was the impression that this could have been a test run. Yet, without evidence we might never know. I do get that the police will be flooded with people in fear and that makes perfect sense. until the police discloses (and finds) the method of contamination, until then most people will be scared out of their minds, especially as the events were relatively close together. 8 miles apart yet with no large towns in between, merely the KalVista Pharmaceuticals labs in Porton Down. So, it is hard not to speculate, but the fact that they are ‘in between’ is an issue that requires investigation and a large one (not just them by the way). The problem is how labs are optionally a problem and that is for Scotland Yard to look at (or the counter-terrorism unit).

You see the issue from the previous one and the present one is one that has a few more issues. When we look at the facts and when you realise that there were a number of agents, the statement that the OPCW gave is now an optional consideration. We see (at https://www.opcw.org/news/article/opcw-issues-report-on-technical-assistance-requested-by-the-united-kingdom/) the quote “The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) transmitted yesterday to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) the report of the OPCW’s mission to provide requested technical assistance in regard to the Salisbury incident on 4 March 2018. The results of the 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” is now an optional issue. When you consider that the Novichok class has 5 (some say 6) variants of the bat, we need to realise the question: ‘Why this one?’, it is important that we know that it needs to be set against the other 4 (or 5) so that we can see, or that we can consider why the choice was there. It might be convenience, it might be easier to make, or merely a random fact. It is in two liquids, both need top gear to make and they are unstable. When you consider them, why was that one chosen? The fact that we see: ‘confirm the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical‘ is very specific. That is seen when we reconsider the article from Spectroscopy Now. So when we are confronted with: “The authors succeeded in synthesising and obtaining detailed mass spectral data on a series of unusual nerve agents. The data have been added to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons’ Central Analytical Database (OCAD). It is important that such databases are as comprehensive as possible so that unusual chemical weapons can be unambiguously detected. The task of ridding the world of all chemical weapons requires a great deal of painstaking work, but the ultimate goal is surely something of which we should all approve”, the fact that we now see clearly ‘a series of unusual nerve agents‘, we see that the other news is very specifically avoiding the issue of a series of agents. In addition, if the Leonard Rink setting is not the same Novichok the issue becomes even larger, because if there are more out there, then it is possible that they are ALL out there. Whether 5 or 6, the labs did not reveal the goods (I am not stating that they should), but it leaves the medical assistance in the dark on how to treat them for the mere reason that they might all set the focus on ‘molecules with the typical nerve agent phosphorus group coupled to N,N,N’N’-tetramethylguanidine‘, the end result might not always be cured the same way generically yes, but specifically is not a certainty. So in that what might cure one, might only partially cure the other (a clear assumption on my side).

Even as panic might hit Amesbury, I do feel that Neil Basu makes a perfectly valid case when we see “no intelligence to indicate that the man and woman had been deliberately targeted”, as well as the statement from England’s chief medical officer Sally Davies, who gives us “I want to reassure the public that the risk to the general public remains low“, to be quite honest I personally would have gone with ‘the risk to the general public remains extremely low and highly unlikely to repeat itself at present‘, the latter part is a less given truth, but until the evidence gives us the opposite it is actually true. Whomever used it, and mixed it would not want to be anywhere near it, or have anything that was used to create it near them. So there is clarity in my reasoning. I will give you one other speculation that matters. If this was done by the same people, then it is extremely likely that they bought all the equipment required twice. I would have dumped everything the moment I was done making it, this stuff is just too scary, so the second batch would have been made from scratch again, this stuff is as other sources gave us unstable, anyone realising that would not be near it, which was the setting all along when I stated that a state driven agent would not be anywhere near it, not when there is an effective bullet driven solution (gun) available, optionally with a library accommodating system (silencer), both readily available for those in that line of work (or you call Jack Jones).

The one witness that can shed optionally more light is seen with “Sam Hobson said he was with them on Saturday, when Ms Sturgess fell ill first“, when we consider the speed at which it happens, would give a much smaller timespan to focus on towards the moment of toxication. More important, if Sam Hobson remained unaffected, the substance might not have been in the building to begin with, so what happened in the two hours preceding his arrival? The small speculation that we get from “Mr Rowley collapsed later the same day“, is a decent indicator that Ms Sturgess was directly exposed, whilst Mr Rowley was likely indirectly exposed, or exposed through transfer from Ms Sturgess. We get that from ‘later that day’, which is too large a leap from getting exposed at the same time, implying that there was a transfer of toxins at some point, yet decently likely that transfer happened outside the building like handing her the cup of coffee she was drinking (merely an example), whatever it was, there is a decent chance that Sam Hobson (if he remains healthy) never got near whatever got to the two, so it is less likely to be in the house.

No matter what happens next, I do hope that the media picks up on the danger of calling the event ‘poisoned with Novichok‘, merely because there are all kinds of variations and even as it reads nice and easy, the fact that Novichok’s are actually quite complex is an important part to realise as it does limit those able (and stupid) enough to rely on this application. That must remain an important consideration as this stuff (unlike a rifle) cannot be bought at any American outlet of Wal-Mart.

It will take a while for unrest and fear to settle in the Salisbury region, I merely hope that they will be able to put it behind them soon enough.

 

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The Sleeping Watchdog

Patrick Wintour, the Guardian’s diplomatic editor is giving us merely a few hours ago [update: yesterday 13 minutes before an idiot with a bulldozer went through the fiber optical cable] before the news on OPCW. So when we see “a special two-day session in late June in response to Britain’s call to hand the body new powers to attribute responsibility for chemical weapons attacks“, what does that mean? You see, the setting is not complex, it should be smooth sailing, but is it?

Let’s take a look at the evidence, most of it from the Guardian. I raised issues which started as early as March 2018 with ‘The Red flags‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/03/27/the-red-flags/), we see no evidence on Russian handling, we see no evidence on the delivery, merely a rumour that ‘More than 130 people could have been exposed‘ (‘could’ being the operative word) and in the end, no fatalities, the target survived. Whilst a mere silenced 9mm solution from a person doing a favour for Russian businessman Sergey Yevgenyevich Naryshkin would have done the trick with no fuss at all. And in Russia, you can’t even perceive the line of Russians hoping to be owed a favour by Sergey Yevgenyevich Naryshkin. In addition, all these months later we still have not seen any conclusive evidence of ANY kind that it was a Russian state based event. Mere emotional speculations on ‘could’ ‘might be‘ as well as ‘expected‘. So where do we stand?

A little later in April, we see in the article ‘Evidence by candlelight‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/04/04/evidence-by-candlelight/), the mere conclusion ‘Porton Down experts unable to verify precise source of novichok‘, so not only could the experts not determine the source (the delivery device), it also gives weight to the lack of evidence that it was a Russian thing. Now, I am not saying that it was NOT Russia, we merely cannot prove that it was. In addition, I was able to find several references to a Russian case involving Ivan Kivelidi and Leonard Rink in 1995, whilst the so called humongous expert named Vil Mirzayanov stated ““You need a very high-qualified professional scientist,” he continued. “Because it is dangerous stuff. Extremely dangerous. You can kill yourself. First of all you have to have a very good shield, a very particular container. And after that to weaponize it – weaponize it is impossible without high technical equipment. It’s impossible to imagine.”” I do not oppose that, because it sounds all reasonable and my extended brain cells on Chemical weapons have not been downloaded yet (I am still on my first coffee). Yet in all this the OPCW setting was in 2013: “Regarding new toxic chemicals not listed in the Annex on Chemicals but which may nevertheless pose a risk to the Convention, the SAB makes reference to “Novichoks”. The name “Novichok” is used in a publication of a former Soviet scientist who reported investigating a new class of nerve agents suitable for use as binary chemical weapons. The SAB states that it has insufficient information to comment on the existence or properties of “Novichoks”“, I can accept that the OPCW is not fully up to speed, yet the information from 1995, 16 years earlier was the setting: ““In 1995, a Russian banking magnate called Ivan Kivelidi and his secretary died from organ failure after being poisoned with a military grade toxin found on an office telephone. A closed trial found that his business partner had obtained the substance via intermediaries from an employee of a state chemical research institute known as GosNIIOKhT, which was involved in the development of Novichoks“, which we got from the Standard (at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/uk-russia-nerve-agent-attack-spy-poisoning-sergei-skripal-salisbury-accusations-evidence-explanation-a8258911.html), so when you realise these settings, we need to realise that the OPCW is flawed on a few levels. It is not the statement “the OPCW has found its methods under attack from Russia and other supporters of the Syrian regime“, the mere fact that we see in regarding of Novichoks implies that the OPCW is a little out of their depth, their own documentation implies this clearly (as seen in the previous blog articles), I attached one of them in the article ‘Something for the Silver Screen?‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/03/17/something-for-the-silver-screen/), so a mere three months ago, there has been several documents all out in the open that gives light to a flawed OPCW, so even as we accept ‘chemist says non-state actor couldn’t carry out attack‘, the fact that it did not result in fatalities gives us that it actually might be a non-state action, it might not be an action by any ‘friend’ of Sergey Yevgenyevich Naryshkin or Igor Valentinovich Korobov. These people cannot smile, not even on their official photos. No sense of humour at all, and they tend to be the people who have a very non-complementary view on failure. So we are confronted not merely with the danger of Novichoks, or with the fact that it very likely in non-state hands. The fact that there is no defence, not the issue of the non-fatalities, but the fact that the source could not be determined, is the dangerous setting and even as we hold nothing against Porton Down, the 16 year gap shown by the OPCW implies that the experts relied on by places like Porton Down are not available, which changes the landscape by a lot and whilst many will wonder how that matters. That evidence could be seen as important when we reconsider the chemical attacks in Syria on 22nd August 2011, so not only did the US sit on their hands, it is now not entirely impossible that they did not have the skills at their disposal to get anything done. Even as a compound like Sarin is no longer really a mystery, the setting we saw then, gives us the other part. With the Associated Press giving us at the time “anonymous US intelligence officials as saying that the evidence presented in the report linking Assad to the attack was “not a slam dunk.”” Is one part, the fact that all the satellites looking there and there is no way to identify the actual culprit is an important part. You see we could accept that the Syrian government was behind this, but there is no evidence, no irrefutable fact was ever given. That implies that when it comes to delivery systems, there is a clear gap, not merely for Novichoks, making the entire setting a lot less useful. In this the website of the OPCW (at https://www.opcw.org/special-sections/syria-and-the-opcw/) is partial evidence. When we see “A total of 14 companies submitted bids to undertake this work and, following technical and commercial evaluation of the bids, the preferred bidders were announced on 14th February 2014. Contracts were signed with two companies – Ekokem Oy Ab from Finland, and Veolia Environmental Services Technical Solutions in the USA” in light of the timeline, implies that here was no real setting and one was implemented after Ghouta, I find that part debatable and not reassuring. In addition, the fact finding mission was not set up until 2014, this is an issue, because one should have been set up on the 23rd August 2011, even as nothing would have been available and the status would have been idle (for very valid reasons), the fact that the fact finding mission was not set up until 2014, gives light to even longer delays. In addition, we see a part that has no blame on the OPCW, the agreement “Decides further that the Secretariat shall: inspect not later than 30 days after the adoption of this decision, all facilities contained in the list referred to in paragraph 1(a) above;“, perfect legal (read: diplomacy driven) talk giving the user of those facilities 30 days to get rid of the evidence. Now, there is no blame on the OPCW in any way, yet were these places not monitored by satellites? Would the visibility of increased traffic and activities not given light to the possible culprit in this all? And when we look at the paragraph 1(a) part and we see: “the location of all of its chemical weapons, chemical weapons storage facilities, chemical weapons production facilities, including mixing and filling facilities, and chemical weapons research and development facilities, providing specific geographic coordinates;“, is there not the decent chance (if the Syrian government was involved, that ‘all locations‘ would be seen as ‘N-1‘, with the actual used fabrication location used conveniently missing from the list? #JustSaying

It seems to me that if this setting is to be more (professional is the wrong word) capable to be effective, a very different setting is required. You see, that setting becomes very astute when we realise that non-state actors are currently on the table, the danger that a lone wolf getting creative is every bit as important to the equation. the OPCW seems to be in a ‘after the fact‘ setting, whilst the intelligence community needs an expert that is supportive towards their own experts in a pro-active setting, not merely the data mining part, but the option to see flagged chemicals that could be part of a binary toxic setting, requires a different data scope and here we see the dangers when we realise that the ‘after the fact‘ setting with a 16 year gap missing the danger is something that is expensive and equally, useless would be the wrong word, but ‘effective’ it is not, too much evidence points at that. For that we need to see that their mission statement is to ‘implement the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in order to achieve the OPCW’s vision of a world that is free of chemical weapons and of the threat of their use‘, yet when we look at the CWC charter we see: ‘The Convention aims to eliminate an entire category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by States Parties. States Parties, in turn, must take the steps necessary to enforce that prohibition in respect of persons (natural or legal) within their jurisdiction‘, which requires a pro-active setting and that is definitely lacking from the OPCW, raising the issue whether their mandate is one of failure. That requires a very different scope, different budgets and above all a very different set of resources available to the OPCW, or whoever replaces the OPCW, because that part of the discussion is definitely not off the table for now. The Salisbury event and all the available data seems to point in that direction.

 

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Evidence by candlelight

This was coming. It took me less than an hour to fathom this outcome when i wrote the initial articles on Novichok and the Skripal family. On March 17th, within ‘Something for the Silver Screen‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/03/17/something-for-the-silver-screen/), the situation was clear to me and it was given by the media with ‘U.S., France and Germany join Britain‘, as I see it this was about something else. The additional ‘evidence’ as we saw it in the Guardian, the Washington Post and the BBC gave us a lot and when read and put together, the evidence was not stacking up. That is now seen in ‘Porton Down experts unable to verify precise source of novichok‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/03/porton-down-experts-unable-to-verify-precise-source-of-novichok). Now, let’s be clear. It does not make Russia innocent, yet whether it was a Russian or the Russian government can’t be verified and when we consider that truth we need to realise that PM Theresa May overreached her abilities and her office by a long stretch. The fact that Porton Down cannot identify whether the Novichok was made in Russia is merely one side, it does not absolve Russia, yet in similar thought, the fact that the origin cannot be determined also implies, or better stated, clearly indicates that the premise ‘beyond all reasonable doubt‘ goes straight out of the window. Now, do not get me wrong, I am just as eager for the next cold war as the next guy, but let’s do it for the right reasons!

You see the quote “Aitkenhead said the government had reached its conclusion that Russia was responsible for the Salisbury attack by combining the laboratory’s scientific findings with information from other sources” is window dressing at best. You see, the nightmare scenario is about to get to the surface and the second quote gets us there. That would be the quote “He said: “It’s a military-grade nerve agent, which requires extremely sophisticated methods in order to create – something that’s probably only within the capabilities of a state actor.”” You see, they shot themselves in the foot there. With: ‘state actor’ we see ‘evidence’ of optional locality, yet they cannot establish that. So now we get back to the original setting that I had on that day and that was that someone had personal skin in the game. It is overkill on a very different level, whilst we know that there were other ways to do this, the choice of weapon made it emotional and governments tend to not be emotional. Now we can go all conspiracy theory on the statement ‘There’s no way that anything like that would ever have come from us or leave the four walls of our facilities‘, yet the reality is that Porter Down is not the most advanced place in Europe. In Germany Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals LLC have the research locations that equal, if not surpass Porter Down. Even as we agree that this was not made in Russia, Russia is still not absolved and that is where the nightmare starts. You see a Novichok is a NBC weapon and whilst we are pushed towards the ‘state actor’ Russia, we forgot that once out, it Jinn will not get back in the bottle. The Ivan Kivelidi and Leonard Rink part took that out into the open and that happened in 1995. So for the larger part of 23 years this has been out in the open and now that someone trying to score a name for him (or her) the issue is out in the open and I am fairly certain that the UK and France (with their lovely chemical experimental places in Lyon) are now becoming an issue. These places have been unmonitored to the larger extent and someone got to be creative. In a world where the cost of living is rising someone has a commodity that the bulk of organised crime is willing to pay for and they are willing to pay through the nose. That is not withstanding the lone wolves and the terrorist cells that are getting funding from some ‘state actor’.

that is now the ball game and it is reinforced with “He said the location of manufacture could be established through “a number of different input sources which the government has access to”, adding: “Scientific evidence is only one of those sources“, so as Gary Aitkenhead is now hiding behind ‘different input sources ‘, we can see that his PD location failed to establish that and if we comprehend Novichoks than we should see that this is not a surprise, even as the sources could be basic composites, those sources are not always possible to be determined. Even as Dmitry Peskov is crying fowl play (pun intended), Russia is not out of the woods. You see even as Russia was the designer, it falls on their heads that Novichoks possibly got out into the open. The setting of responsibility seems to be clearly there, even as the papers I talked about three weeks ago shows that the executive council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fumbled the ball, their own meeting minutes shows that to be the fact. In a similar light we see the quote from Boris Johnson as an issue (not merely his haircut). As we are introduced to: “When I look at the evidence, the people from Porton Down, the laboratory, they were absolutely categorical. I asked the guy myself, I said: ‘Are you sure?’ And he said: ‘There’s no doubt.’ So we have very little alternative but to take the action that we have taken” and there is the issue, because the entire setting of evidence would have taken weeks not hours, which was a clear indication for me that the entire matter had been bungled by adding ‘projection weight’ into the fold in a place where there was no lighting, no electricity and no illumination of almost any kind. In this day and age evidence by candlelight is no evidence at all.

So it is my personal belief that gives us the last quote in this and the opposition it also creates. With “Alexander Grushko, called the attack a “provocation arranged by Britain” to justify high military spending because “they need a major enemy”“, Grushko might not be wrong, but he failed to add to this that there is every chance that Russia let slip the chemical dog of war and leave it in the hands of Russian organised crime and that is the nightmare that the European State actors were not ready for. The papers of the State Advisory Board (SAB) and the OPCW gave us that part when we see the gap of well over a decade. I am also decently certain that when we ‘grill’ Vil Mirzayanov in a toaster we will learn a few additional uncomfortable truths, the kind that the media is skating around as fast as they can, and in this one instance I actually do not blame them. In the end it still makes for one awesome Matt Damon movie and in light of the shown governmental shortcomings (and adding that to the script) it might just be a billion dollar hit, which is good for whoever decides to produce it.

So even as the media focused on that one place named Shikhany where that bad demon came from, we all forget that places like Dow, Bayer, Unilever, Laboratoire de Chimie ENS de Lyon and at least three more places where the setup could possibly facilitate for its creation and that is merely in Europe, that list gets to be significantly larger when we widen the net. Someone has played a very dangerous game and it is my personal belief that the global intelligence branch was so focused on optional terror cells that they forget that organised crime has a ‘mere’ need to satisfy their need for greed in any way they can and they forgot to look into that direction. I wonder how long it will take for me to be proven right yet again. Don’t get me wrong, I would love (read: prefer) to be wrong. Yet so far that has not happened. The idea of the Russian Mafia, or any large enough organised crime group to have their fingers on the C of NBC is scary, more so than a lone wolf terrorist. Because a lone wolf is likely to get emotional and would therefor fuck up, the calculating nature of organised crime is a much harder puppy to crack.

Yet that is merely my view on the matter.

 

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Something for the Silver Screen?

There is an issue in Europe, well, there are plenty of issues in Europe, but until now, I steered clear of one of them. Something does not add up and it is now more of an issue than ever before.

This trip started in the Washington Post, after I saw several articles in the Guardian. You see, with one article it has become something else and that is very much an issue. So (at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/russia-to-respond-very-soon-to-british-decision-to-expel-its-diplomats/2018/03/15/89e27b4a-2839-11e8-b79d-f3d931db7f68_story.html), we see ‘U.S., France and Germany join Britain in saying Russia likely responsible for chemical attack against former spy‘, the mere title. Now, I am not saying that this is not what happened, not even implying that it is some figment. Yet, why would we see ‘U.S., France and Germany join Britain‘? This is a simple murder, perhaps an assassination, or liquidation. Whatever word you use for the event, it does not matter to the person who got iced, he definitely no longer cares. But we, we should care, for us this entire situation matters. So when we see in the very beginning “formally backed Britain’s claims that Russia likely was responsible for a chemical toxin attack against a former spy living in England“, I personally am not convinced. There would have been any number of actions that would have resulted in the demise of that person. To get a gun is usually not hard if you know the people. There was a person in the 90’s that one could meet near Ilford, would be able to get a whole range of guns, no silencers though. Still for £350-£500 (in those days) you could get something not too fancy and it would clean the clock of whoever needed to be done. Just make sure you do not do it in the wrong place and upset the local family guy, because that tends not to work. Still, consider the ease of a mere gun against the dangers, the risks and the trouble of getting VX into the country, than getting it to the location. You only need to see the movie ‘The Rock‘ to know that it requires several things, a lot of it dodgy and that stuff is not that stable to begin with. Now, as we see that there was a nerve agent in play, so I am not opposing that. I am merely stating that this kind of work is odd to begin with. That is beside the point of any SVR RF, FSB or GRU member freaking out having to take that shit with them. It is not merely overkill; it tends to leave you without options if you fail at first. And ask any Murphy that your shit goes wrong the first opportunity nature gets their hands on you. It is a fact of life. So in that regard it seems to me that Novichok is a weird choice to use. This is also me stating that I have no evidence that it was NOT used. So when I take a little lesson in Novichok, I learned the following:

  1. At https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/CSP/RC-3/en/rc3wp01_e_.pdf, we see “Regarding new toxic chemicals not listed in the Annex on Chemicals but which may nevertheless pose a risk to the Convention, the SAB makes reference to “Novichoks”. The name “Novichok” is used in a publication of a former Soviet scientist who reported investigating a new class of nerve agents suitable for use as binary chemical weapons. The SAB states that it has insufficient information to comment on the existence or properties of “Novichoks”” which they state on page 3 in paragraph 8. Now this is 2013 and this is 5 years later. Yet, as some sources give us that it was developed in the 70’s up to the early 90’s, it seems interesting that there was nothing on the matter 20 years later.
  2. Yet that same OPCW gave us in April 2011, two years earlier the two following parts on page 7 at 11.1 and 11.2. With: “This has been attracting increasing attention in recent years, particularly among non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Although very little information has appeared in the public domain, there have been claims that a new class of nerve agents, known as “Novichoks”, has been developed. In December 2008, a former defence scientist published a book, which included information on structures reported to be those of the new agents. Some of these structures meet the criteria for Schedule 2 B4 (S2 B4); however, all others are non-scheduled chemicals. The author claimed that the toxicity of certain “Novichok” agents may exceed that of VX“, something that should have woken up the CIA instantly, something deadlier than VX and no defence? There is no way that they wouldn’t have been chasing that, even if it was merely to find a defence against it.

So now we have the play to some extent in view. The BBC gave first view (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43377856) with “Former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned by a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia“, yet it is the innuendo of News.com.au that takes the limelight. With “Investigators believe the nerve agent that poisoned former Russian agent Sergei Skripal was planted in his daughter’s suitcase before she left Moscow, The Telegraph newspaper reported, citing unidentified sources. Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found slumped unconscious on a bench outside a shopping centre in the genteel southern English city of Salisbury on March 4“, so not only did they go the whole nine yards to get to both, the entire issue is that both could have been removed simple enough in Salisbury. The entire matter does not add up. Another source, The Jamestown Foundation gives us “Sergei Skripal (66), a former Russian military intelligence (GRU) colonel, was arrested in Moscow in 2004 for allegedly being an agent of the United Kingdom’s MI6 intelligence service. Skripal was convicted, in 2006, to serve 13 years in prison for treason. In 2010, he was pardoned, released and sent to the UK in a major spy exchange involving a big group of “sleeper” spies who had been arrested in the United States, promptly convicted and deported to Russia“, so if we accept these facts, than we see that he was shipped to the UK 8 years ago. So now we see such an overkill event? It does not add up!

This level of overkill implies (mind you I am saying ‘implies’) personal orchestration, this is a message, but for who the message is for (or ‘from’ for that matter) is not clear. There is enough evidence that the toxin was used, but there is a long road here. Even as we accept the Jamestown Foundation giving us “Other officials insist Novichok was never officially defined as a chemical weapon and was not destroyed, because it never officially existed (Interfax, March 14). Mirzayanov, who is apparently the main whistle-blower on Novichok, is being actively discredited by the pro-Kremlin press (Komsomolskaya Pravda, March 15). Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov categorically denied there ever was a secret nerve agent program named “Novichok in Russia or in the USSR,” while Russia has stopped all work on developing new chemical weapons and has completed the destruction of existing stockpiles. Ryabkov referred to Mirzayanov as a “defector,” who was not trustworthy (Militarynews, March 15)“. This now gets us to the crux of the matter. The whistle-blower Vil Mirzayanov is now living in the US. Now we get to the good stuff, which is given by The Guardian, the article (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/16/russian-spy-poisoning-attack-novichok-chemist) gives us ‘chemist says non-state actor couldn’t carry out attack‘, that is a notion I can very well agree with. In addition, as I stated earlier “the chemical was too dangerous for anyone but a “high-level senior scientist” to handle and that even he – who worked for 30 years inside the secret military installation where novichok was developed and gained extensive personal experience in handling the agent – would not know how to weaponize it“. If this stuff has been weaponised it would be a novel usage and also a very novel situation. The fact that the luggage went from Moscow without setting off any alarms, the fact that it survived the trip (you know how luggage carriers tend to be), as well as the setting that it went off at the time it did gives rise to all kinds of technological options. Still we have the setting of who would have done it. Mirzayanov supports this with ““You need a very high-qualified professional scientist,” he continued. “Because it is dangerous stuff. Extremely dangerous. You can kill yourself. First of all you have to have a very good shield, a very particular container. And after that to weaponize it – weaponize it is impossible without high technical equipment. It’s impossible to imagine.”” and let’s not forget the target, a former GRU agent who had been in prison for 4 years and then exchanged. It seems to me that it is not impossible that Russia was behind it, but I feel that the entire approach was too personal. I speculate that this was likely a Russian with a personal axe to grind, moreover this was a test-run (a mere speculation) and the person decided to go after the one person he had hatred for and in that regard going after the daughter made perfect sense, even more so as it would hurt the person he wanted to get to even more. So was this the case?

Now the last part is all speculative but it adds up, the effort shown for stuff that is still material for denial from the original whistle-blower giving us ‘would not know how to weaponize it‘, and that is from the person who actually handled the stuff. It is the very last part that also matters; with “Mirzayanov thinks the Salisbury attack was performed with a binary version of the agent brought through customs and automatically mixed at the time of the attack“, so two elements, mixing and distributing, such a device was not seen when the luggage got to the UK?

There are too many issues and even as I agree wholeheartedly on the message that Vil Mirzayanov brought to us, I am not convinced that this was some elaborate scheme from the Russian government. Sending any officer of the SVR RF, FSB, GRU or even the Voyska Spetsialnogo Naznacheniya to go shopping in London with the message “Oh, and before you fly back, would you kindly put a bullet in the back of the head of both Sergei and Yulia Skripal?“, a simple mandate avoiding well over half a dozen of cogs that could be clogged with mere sand at any given time.

That is why it does not add up. In hindsight there is one additional part. Is it true that ONLY Russia has that stuff? The entire matter when we see some papers where the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, was to some extent in the dark 5 years ago. In light of Vil Mirzayanov moving to New Jersey in 1996, so 15 years later the OPCW is still in the dark? That path makes even less sense. In addition, the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) seemed to have been equally in the dark. From those parts alone, whilst one of the handlers was in the US for the last 22 years, the entire setting is a stretch. It does make sense that the US would have been part of the conversation, yet how do France and Germany fit in? Some presented unity on standing up against Russia?

There is little question on the timeline. So when we see the BBC (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43297638), they are found by a doctor and nurse at 16:15, both unconscious. So they had made it to the Malting’s shopping centre (or so the information implies). So when we learn “A police officer who was the first to attend the scene is now in a serious condition in hospital, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said“, which we get form the article (at http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43323847) we should be able to tell more. But we cannot, the News is too chaotic, BBC, SBS and other reliable sources give us the snippets, but not an actual slice of the cake. The timeline implies that they were poisoned on the spot, the fact that Nick Bailey, a police officer who became unwell after taking part in the early response to the attack gives additional rise to the use of a toxin, but that implies that it was done there, on the spot. Even if the toxin was moved through touch, the speed at which Nick Bailey got it implies (speculative from my side) that the toxin worked fast, unless the location was less than a 4 minute walk from their house, that option would be taken away as the toxin would be pushed through the body via the bloodstream. In addition any longer would make the Novichok useless, nerve agents are that because they are close to lightning fast, even as we expect that the police officer was lucky and too little got to him.

Yet it was only a few hours ago that the Guardian is giving us a timeline (aren’t they just the best). So the article (at https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/mar/16/skripals-poisoning-what-we-know-so-far) gives us a decent timeline. I particularly liked “most likely in powder form and the means of delivery could have been as simple as a letter“, so perhaps it might be: “most likely in powder form and the means of delivery could have been as simple as the restaurant bill“, you see the hour at Zizzi as well as the fact that they were found 40 minutes later. A nerve agent will work fast, really fast so the 40 minutes would have been a stretch no matter what, yet the fact when they were found and when they were overcome is not a given, so they could have been smouldering there for over 20 minutes. It equally gives rise that the longer they were there the less impact it would have had on Constable Nick Bailey, his luck I might add. The Guardian is now showing the issues I had and that is good (for me), so as I finalise reading that article, I see a number of issues and even as I had seen most issues, the one part that they aren’t giving us (as It was not part of the timeline) was seen in the in depth of the Independent (at http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/uk-russia-nerve-agent-attack-spy-poisoning-sergei-skripal-salisbury-accusations-evidence-explanation-a8258911.html). Here we see: “Some analysts have claimed that Novichoks could have been smuggled out of chemical weapons and storage sites after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when facilities were abandoned by unpaid staff and security was low“, “if the precursor ingredients were smuggled out in the 1990s, stored in proper conditions and mixed recently, they could still be deadly in a small-scale attack according to some experts” as well as “In 1995, a Russian banking magnate called Ivan Kivelidi and his secretary died from organ failure after being poisoned with a military grade toxin found on an office telephone. A closed trial found that his business partner had obtained the substance via intermediaries from an employee of a state chemical research institute known as GosNIIOKhT, which was involved in the development of Novichoks” give us a few things. In the first that the experts are kind of clueless, we might be blaming Russia on all this and it might be true, yet the latter part that involves Ivan Kivelidi takes away the ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’. The fact that this stuff is out in the open to some degree is a much larger issue and when we see “Leonard Rink, told police he had been storing poisons in his garage and selling them to pay off debts“, we see part that takes the Russian government optionally out of the equation and gives us the part I came with earlier “the entire approach was too personal. I speculate that this was likely a Russian with a personal axe to grind“, it fits the bill of the restaurant one might state, that is, if the timeline of the events and the timeline of the toxin can be proven, because both are the axial in the issue.

No matter how this plays out, this could become one hell of a movie and when we see it on the silver screen, will Matt Damon play the person with the grudge, or the scientist who initially played a role in developing it? However we should reserve the role of Skripal for John Larroquette, it will be nice to see him again on the big screen.

 

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