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A Bucketful of Novichok

By Rob Slane | The Blog Mire | May 5, 2018

In my last piece, I wrote that one of the downsides of the probable D-Notice slapped on the Skripal Case was that we may well be deprived of our daily dose of farcical nonsense, such as whether the poison was administered in the restaurant, the car, the cemetery, the flowers, the luggage, the bench, the porridge, the door handle or – and I’m surprised nobody has thought of it yet – perhaps the cat. There is no doubt an FSB manual waiting to be found which explains how cats can be safely used as conduits for “Novichok”, and it has almost certainly been put together by the dashingly handsome, astonishingly intelligent, but inexplicably bitmapped ruthless ex-KGB assassin, “Gordon”, who was apparently a suspect a couple of weeks ago, but is no longer deemed a person of interest.

But despite the D-Notice, on the morning of 5th May it seemed that the torrent of patent absurdities was actually not about to cease anytime soon. In an interview with the New York Times, the Director General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ahmet Uzumcu, said the following:

“For research activities or protection you would need, for instance, five to 10 grams or so, but even in Salisbury it looks like they may have used more than that, without knowing the exact quantity, I am told it may be 50, 100 grams or so, which goes beyond research activities for protection.”

My immediate reaction was to ask why only 50-100 grams (which the New York Times helpfully tells its readers is between about a quarter-cup to a half-cup of liquid)? Why not a whole bucketful of Novichok, splashed indiscriminately over the front door of Mr Skripal’s house?

It is testimony to the truly uninquisitive minds of the dutiful stenographers at the New York Times and the rest of the media which ran with the same story, that none of them appear to have wondered to themselves something along these lines:

“Huh? 100 grams of military-grade nerve agent? Of a type said to be 5-8 times more lethal than VX, which itself has a median lethal dose of 10 milligrams. And we’re now apparently talking about 100,000 milligrams! And yet not only are the Skripals alive (well at least they were when last Yulia got hold of a phone) but the population of Salisbury seems to be doing okay as well. In fact no-one died (apart from the cat and the guinea pigs). Does Mr Uzumcu know what he’s talking about?”

My next reaction was to wonder whether actually he knows exactly what he’s talking about. But I’ll come back to that in a moment.

Anyway, later in the day, the OPCW issued a Statement on Amount of Nerve Agent Used in Salisbury, which read as follows:

“In response to questions from the media, the OPCW Spokesperson stated that the OPCW would not be able to estimate or determine the amount of the nerve agent that was used in Salisbury on 4 March 2018. The quantity should probably be characterised in milligrams. However, the analysis of samples collected by the OPCW Technical Assistance Visit team concluded that the chemical substance found was of high purity, persistent and resistant to weather conditions.”

As an aside, I’d love to know which media asked the questions. My guess is that it wasn’t any of those organisations who had repeated the claims made in the New York Times.

But what of the statement itself? Taken at face value, along with Mr Uzumcu’s original statement, it is very odd for a number of reasons:

1. Firstly, it says that the OPCW would not be able to estimate or determine the amount of the substance used. But of course this is exactly what Mr Uzumcu did appear to say, when he mentioned the quantities 50 and 100 grams.

2. Secondly, the statement says that the quantity should probably be characterised in milligrams. Not bucketfuls then? But of course the problem with this is that it does appear to leave Mr Uzumcu looking rather stupid, as if he:

a) Doesn’t know his grams from his milligrams and

b) Doesn’t realise that a cupful of military grade nerve agent 5-8 times more toxic than VX would kill people – like, lots and lots and lots of people

3. And thirdly, the milligrams for grams exchange completely undercuts the whole point Mr Uzumcu was making. He was saying that it appeared from the amount used that it could not have been produced in any old laboratory, as he had admitted a week before when he had said it could be produced “in any country where there would be some chemical expertise.” Rather, the point he was making was that quantities like 50-100 grams could only point to military production of the agent, rather than simply for research purposes.

This is all very bizarre. That’s hardly surprising, though, since there is almost nothing about this case that has not been extremely odd. From what I can tell, there are only really two possible explanations for this latest bout of strangeness.

One possible explanation is that Mr Uzumcu is simply incompetent, and so lacking in knowledge that he doesn’t know his grams from his milligrams, nor that half a cup of deadly nerve agent would wipe out hundreds, if not thousands, of people (not to mention being impossible to put on a door handle in the first place, at least not without the kind of protection that might just draw attention). However, this seems to me fairly unlikely. I assume that you don’t become Director General of the OPCW and remain in the position for eight years if you really are that inept.

But is there another more revealing explanation?

If you go back and read Mr Uzumcu’s statement, it is very noticeable that he does not actually state that he personally believes the quantity of the poison used in Salisbury was 50 or 100 grams. What he actually said is:

“For research activities or protection you would need, for instance, five to 10 grams or so, but even in Salisbury it looks like they may have used more than that, without knowing the exact quantity, I am told it may be 50, 100 grams or so, which goes beyond research activities for protection” [my emphasis].

It looks like they may have used more than that? From what does it look like that? From the months long, multi-million pound clean up job being undertaken, by any chance?

And of the quantity, he says he was told this. But the question is, who told him?

I can’t be sure, but my hunch is that he does know his grams from his milligrams; that he is well aware that 50-100 grams of the stuff would be enough to have killed the Skripals outright, along with hundreds or possibly thousands of others in the surrounding area; and also that he understands full well that the current multi-million pound clean up operation in Salisbury, which is precisely intended to give the impression that there was so much of the stuff that it might make up half a cupful, or perhaps even a whole bucketful, is something of a farce.

And so even though his original statement at first seems absurd, I’m fairly convinced that it was not a display of incompetence on his part. Rather, together with the subsequent clarification, it was very likely a signal that he believes his source for the claim to be either incompetent or – shall we say – economical with the actualité. And it may be that his real aim was – as diplomatically as possible – to let certain folks in Britain know that he’s not as convinced by some of their claims as they might like him to be.

May 5, 2018 - Posted by | Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | ,

1 Comment »

  1. If anyone ever tries to bullshit me, I’m through with you. Stop talking. Ugh, I’m very tired. You make me very tired.

    Cut it out, assholes.

    A bucketful of nonsense.

    Comment by tsisageya | May 6, 2018 | Reply


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