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Posts Tagged ‘novichok’

Initial Thoughts on Novichok Agents, Sergei Skripal, Russia and UK: 2

April 6, 2018 2 comments

About two weeks ago, I wrote a post about the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his adult daughter by an organophosphate compound– allegedly by “russian agents” in UK. At that time, corporate MSM outlets in the west were busy concocting increasingly outrageous stories about that incident. As it turns out, pretty much every single story promoted by the MSM about that incident turned out to be unsubstantiated by evidence. For example: initial reports of twenty other people being accidentally exposed to that compound proved to be incorrect. The only other person allegedly exposed to that compound has since recovered and we still are not sure about how he got exposed to it in the first place.

More tellingly, none of the first responders and medical personnel got ill from handling Skripal and his daughter. Initially, British authorities had claimed that the poison was found in the car ventilation system, then they claimed it was on the door handle and now they are considering the possibility that it was in a gift brought over by his daughter from Russia. They also initially said that Skripal and his daughters had little to no chance of recovery and we now learn that his daughter is recovering and will leave the hospital soon. Today, we are told that Skripal will also make a ‘miraculous’ recovery.

In other words, the “official” narrative put forth by the British government about that incident has been unusually vague, ever-changing and too dependent on having uncritical belief in their honesty. Some of you might recall how similar and totally made up claims by British “intelligence” services at the core of’Iraq Dossier‘ were used by Tony Blair’s government to justify support for the failed american invasion of Iraq in 2003. There is also a strong parallel between this incident and the attempt by German intelligence agencies in 1994 (with approval by USA) to implicate the then Russian government in a fake plot to smuggle plutonium into the west.

To make matters even more peculiar, the British government still has not been able to provide evidence that it knows the identity or structure of the compound involved in that incident. As I wrote in my previous post, indirect identification of organophosphate compounds by their ability to inhibit cholinesterases and other related esterases is pretty straightforward. Definitive identification of the compound, though easy nowadays compared to 30 years ago, is substantially more complicated. Having said that, the apparent inability of multiple government labs in nearby British biological and chemical warfare laboratories at Porton Down to provide objective data to support their claims of identifying the compound is odd.

Based on the many peculiarities and oddities of this case in addition to the past history of those making the accusations, it is worthwhile considering another possibility. Maybe the British government, or some faction within its “deep state”, is behind the poison attack on Skripal and his daughter. False flag attacks to generate public sympathy for, or unity behind, a cause are not unknown. Similarly, there is a rich history in the “west” of using false flag attacks to demonize another country. It is also hard to ignore that the “deep state” in UK and USA is the biggest beneficiary of such an attack. Let me explain that point in some detail..

Skripal was an ex-Russian spy who betrayed his fellow officers in the KGB for purely financial reasons. You probably know that he was caught and tried in 2004 and imprisoned for a few years (2004-2010) in Russia before being part of a spy swap deal with UK and USA in 2010. If the government in Russia really wanted him dead, he would not have lived long enough to be part of the spy swap deal in 2010. Then there is the question of why this incident occurred days before the presidential election in Russia. Think about it.. how does such an incident benefit Putin in his reelection campaign? The simple fact is that it does not help him.

Such an incident does however provide the “deep state” in UK and USA with more ammo in their ineffectual campaign to demonize Putin. It is no secret that the USA and its old crippled prison-bitch aka UK are not adjusting well to the emerging world order- an order in which they stand to further lose whatever real or imagined global influence they possessed. It is no secret that the many recent global military misadventures by USA (and UK) such as the failed invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan have been humiliating and expensive failures. Their attempts to extend NATO right upto Russian borders and generally behave as if the world is still stuck in 2000 have not gone as planned.

The pathetic attempts by USA, UK and France (waning western powers) to interfere in other parts of the world such as Syria and part of Africa has been unsuccessful. Furthermore, their dream of turning Russia into some vassal state ruled by west-friendly oligarchs has been a miserable failure. It does not help that the financial crash of 2008 has exposed the many failures of western neoliberalism to their own domestic populations. It is no wonder, therefore, that average people in the west have in the recent past voted for concepts such as Brexit and people such as Trump and other fake right-wing populists. To make a long story short, the traditional elite in the west (especially the USA and UK) are feeling their power slip away irreversibly.

It is therefore not surprising that these mediocrities are trying to reboot the Cold War. The general thought process behind their actions is as follows.. The cold war was good for establishment elites as it allowed them to consolidate their power in western countries and suppress dissent and challenges to their undeserved power. Perhaps, rebooting the Cold War (they think) would let them use the same playbook and turn back the metaphorical clock. Of course, any objective person can see that this hare-brained scheme is going in failure since the underlying conditions across the world have changed a lot since the late 1980s.

Then again, establishment elite have never been the sharpest tools in the shed (link 1, link 2). I mean.. look at how they are reacting to Trump’s election in USA. Not a minute goes by when these idiots are not breathlessly talking about another leak from the “Mueller team”, another “new” link between Putin and Trump or some other similar absurdity. In fact, I have written more than one post about this in the past, including how this obsession is a symptom of a much deeper intellectual bankruptcy among establishment elites in USA.

All of this in addition to the “deep state” fondness for hare-brained schemes which look amazingly impressive on paper strongly suggest that the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter in UK was a false flag operation, which did not work out as originally planned.

What do you think? Comments?

Initial Thoughts on Novichok Agents, Sergei Skripal, Russia and UK: 1

March 20, 2018 13 comments

About a couple of weeks ago, a former Russian military intelligence officer named Sergei Skripal and his adult daughter were found unconscious on a public bench in Salisbury by a passing doctor and nurse. They were taken by paramedics to a nearby hospital where their condition was determined to be the result of exposure to an organophosphate compound, most likely a nerve agent. Within a day or two of the event, the British government was openly blaming Russia for this incident. The Russian government has, so far, officially denied any involvement in whatever caused Skripal and his daughter to end up in the hospital.

While there is no shortage of alternative narratives, speculation , trolling and changing stories by all sides involved in this incident, especially UK, we are still not close to anything approaching a somewhat reliable account of how Skripal and his daughter got exposed to whatever chemical they were exposed to on that day. To complicate matters further, a lot of scientifically illiterate liars who happen to write for supposedly “respectable” news outlets such as the NYT, WP and Guardian have muddied the waters even further with their bullshit and.. face it.. propaganda.

In this post, I will try to de-convolute a lot of the bullshit, lies, exaggerations surrounding this incident and the chemicals allegedly used. I will also talk about some of the peculiar, and largely glossed over, facts of this case.

1] While definitive diagnosis of poisoning by cholinesterase inhibitors such as organophosphates is relatively quick and easy, identifying the compound responsible for that intoxication is often difficult- especially if the compound is present in minute quantities. But why? Well.. it comes down to the nature of tests necessary for reaching each endpoint. It is fairly easy to run a small sample of blood and plasma through an assay which measures RBC and serum cholinesterase activity. While not identical to neuronal acetylcholinesterase, these enzymes are similar enough to each other as a family that compounds which inhibit one will inhibit the others.

Ready-to-use kits for measuring both red blood cell and plasma cholinesterase are available in the diagnostic laboratories of almost every major hospital. In contrast to that, rapid and definitive identification of an organophosphate compound is harder- especially if the compound is present in very small quantities or is uncommon. While modern mass-spectroscopy based methods can detect minuscule amounts of any chemical compound, preparing samples for testing can often take more than a couple of days- especially if you do not know which test specimen contains the compound of interest.

2] While the government in UK still maintains that the compound they identified is a Novichok agent‘, we still have not seen any of the evidence which led to their conclusion. You might remember that in 2002, the UK government made a similarly bold claim that they were certain about Saddam Hussein possessing large stockpiles of WMDs. We all remember how that one played out. It does not help that their stories about where Skripal and his daughter might have gotten exposed have kept on changing. Also, we do not have any definitive evidence about the extent of exposure to other people in their vicinity or those involved in their subsequent medical treatment and investigation.

Similarly, their contention that this compound must have come from a “Russian chemical laboratory” is not supported by available evidence. The structure of more than a few of these compounds is readily available and while their synthesis would be highly risky, a large corporation or government program in any country with a half-decent chemical industry could synthesize them without much difficulty. Furthermore, these compounds were developed to be especially easy to synthesize- in addition to being highly toxic. Unless they can show that isolated samples contain some signature reaction side-products or they apprehend those who poisoned Skripal and his daughter- definitive attribution to Russia is basically impossible.

3] There is also the question of why Russia would target Skripal and his daughter in 2018, as opposed to anytime after the 2010 spy swap with UK. Why wait eight years to do something that is certain to get negative international attention? Sure.. Skripal was seen as a traitor by the Russians, but that has been the case since he was arrested by them in 2004. It is actually somewhat odd that he did not die in a Russian prison sometime between 2004 and 2010. Also, why go after him when there are other more target-worthy Russian expats living in UK.

And then there is the vexed question about why his daughter was still working in the US embassy in Moscow. Think about it.. why would a person whose father was imprisoned for high treason in a country continue to work in the embassy of an adversary nation in that country? Why did she not work in a similar position in another country? Why flaunt her presence in Moscow by working at the US embassy, when the government there saw her father as a traitor. Clearly, there is a lot more to this story than has, so far, been made public.

Will write another post on this topic based on future developments and comments.

What do you think? Comments?