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ORAC
4th Jul 2018, 12:32
I don’t think there’s any evidence right at the moment to suggest this is anything other than a coincidence.
LONDON (Reuters) - Two people in a critical condition near the English city of Salisbury were poisoned and samples have been sent to a British military research site Porton Down for testing, the Sun newspaper political editor reported, citing defence sources.

“Sick couple in Salisbury have been poisoned and samples sent to Porton Down for urgent testing - defence sources,” Tom Newton Dunn said on Twitter.

Sallyann1234
4th Jul 2018, 12:41
Should we be surprised that RT are already leading with this item?

https://www.rt.com/uk/431691-police-salisbury-two-ill/

arketip
4th Jul 2018, 13:03
Should we be surprised that RT are already leading with this item?

https://www.rt.com/uk/431691-police-salisbury-two-ill/

And so are

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-wiltshire-44707052

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/07/03/uk/salisbury-uk-major-incident-intl/index.html

etc.

sitigeltfel
4th Jul 2018, 13:25
A local Boots pharmacy has been closed "as a precaution".

A dodgy prescription? What medicine would both of them be taking at the same time? Methadone?

funfly
4th Jul 2018, 14:03
A dodgy prescription?

A friend of mine was seriously ill last year because the local pharmacy gave him the wrong tablets, although they labeled them as the ones he should have had. Every time he was rushed to hospital he recovered as they were giving him the correct medication from their stocks, as soon as he returned home and taking his prescribed drugs he was ill again. Took a long time to diagnose the problem as his drugs were incorrectly labelled - only discovered because someone noticed the tablets looked 'different' to his previous ones. Now a broken man he will never properly recover.

So it can easily happen

FF

BehindBlueEyes
4th Jul 2018, 14:10
According to a relative who lives in the area, this is how it was initially reported. Slight change of stance by the authorities!

Police warn drug users after contamination leaves two in hospital | Salisbury Journal (http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/16327500.police-warn-drug-users-after-contamination-leaves-two-in-hospital/)

VP959
4th Jul 2018, 14:11
FWIW, having been driving around the area earlier, the response doesn't seem to be on anything like the same scale as that for the Skripal incident. I didn't see any evidence of people in protective clothing, no sign of screens or barriers, just a few police guarding areas that are cordoned off.

I reckon it's anyone's guess as to what's happened right now, but my gut feeling is that it's not related to the Skripal attack, both because of the relatively lax barriers that and because this happened on Saturday and it's now Wednesday and no one seems to have announced that a CA was involved. I don't know for sure how long it takes to check for the presence of a CA in low concentrations, but would have thought no more than 48 hours at a guess.

There's is a minor drug problem in the area, more so in Amesbury and places like Durrington than Salisbury, but if this had been just a drug OD, then I can't see that there would be this amount of fuss being created. I can't see why a duff batch of drugs would cause areas to be cordoned off, especially areas in Salisbury, miles away from the address in Amesbury.

Certainly an unusual incident, though, and a bit mysterious, what with the high level anti-terrorism people being brought in and a meeting of COBRA being called.

TEEEJ
4th Jul 2018, 15:22
Police News Conference scheduled for 4.30pm in Amesbury.

TEEEJ
4th Jul 2018, 16:04
The only additional details in the Police News Conference were that a number of additional areas have been cordoned off. No details on the "unknown substance".

Sky News are reporting that friends of the couple claimed that the critically ill pair found something in the Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury.

Map link to Queen Elizabeth Gardens

https://goo.gl/maps/tvDN4iGfVuM2

G-CPTN
4th Jul 2018, 16:22
Of course, Amesbury is now over-run by the 'media' :ugh:

so many reporters from national media have descended on their doorsteps

VP959
4th Jul 2018, 17:57
Of course, Amesbury is now over-run by the 'media' :ugh:

Didn't look it earlier, according to my wife. She popped in there to use the Library and said the only activity seemed to be on the way in, around the housing estate alongside BDN where the incident took place, just a police cordon and a couple of parked police vans.

er340790
4th Jul 2018, 18:40
I suspect the Best Kept Village Committee has been dealing with lowlife junkie scum for the greater good..... "The Greater Good!"

Definitely sounds like a case for Hot Fuzz.

TEEEJ
4th Jul 2018, 20:51
Confirmed as Novichok - Breaking press conference from Metropolitan Police.

ORAC
4th Jul 2018, 21:02
Not only Novichok - but the same variant as used against the Skripals.

There will now be intense interest in their movements over the last 48 hours - especially where they were in Salisbury.

stagger
4th Jul 2018, 21:02
Confirmed as Novichok - Breaking press conference from Metropolitan Police.

WTF? They couldn't just have stumbled across some of the stuff used to poison the Skripal's could they? That would have decayed by now - right?

G-CPTN
4th Jul 2018, 21:04
Confirmed as Novichok - Breaking press conference from Metropolitan Police.
But was it left over from the earlier incident?

VP959
4th Jul 2018, 21:07
Christ on a bike, this is going to cause a heck of a row, wherever the source turns out to have come from. Perhaps the clean up didn't catch all the areas where the agent had been spread, seems the most likely possibility. If it was a separate attack, intended to throw the scent away from Russia, then I hate to think what the international consequences may be.

VP959
4th Jul 2018, 21:09
WTF? They couldn't just have stumbled across some of the stuff used to poison the Skripal's could they? That would have decayed by now - right?

No, it's highly persistent, lasts decades and does not wash away with water, so it can hang around in the environment for a very long time - no one knows how long, but we know that similar agents, like VX, are still just as toxic as the day they were prepped 50 years later.

TEEEJ
4th Jul 2018, 21:16
Christ on a bike, this is going to cause a heck of a row, wherever the source turns out to have come from. Perhaps the clean up didn't catch all the areas where the agent had been spread, seems the most likely possibility. If it was a separate attack, intended to throw the scent away from Russia, then I hate to think what the international consequences may be.

Sky News were reporting that friends of the couple claimed that the critically ill pair found something in the Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury. Apparently they were having a picnic down by the river. Could they have stumbled upon the dispenser/canister either used in the Skripal attack or another one dumped by those involved?

atakacs
4th Jul 2018, 21:20
I muss say I did not think this whole story could get wierder. I stand corrected.

er340790
4th Jul 2018, 21:38
Uh-oh! What might Putin unleash in an England v Russia Semi-Final ???!!! :eek:

KelvinD
4th Jul 2018, 22:26
Not only Novichok - but the same variant as used against the Skripals. Orac
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said it could not be confirmed whether the nerve agent came from the same batch that Mr Skripal, and his daughter Yulia, were exposed to. Met Police
Now, which one do I tend to believe?

fitliker
4th Jul 2018, 23:26
Uh-oh! What might Putin unleash in an England v Russia Semi-Final ???!!! :eek:
It would be a beautiful thing if England won the world Cup :)

atakacs
5th Jul 2018, 05:40
I certainly don't claim any knowledge in the matter but I seem to remember (still looking for a quote) that one of the supposed reason for the Skripal’s survival was that the agent deposited on the door handle would have degraded by water present in the air moisture.
So my question is: are those chemicals degraded by water?
Also is it technicaly possible to identify those molecules with certitude within a few hours of the blood samples being retrieved (even assuming you know what you are looking for)?

VP959
5th Jul 2018, 05:59
I certainly don't claim any knowledge in the matter but I seem to remember (still looking for a quote) that one of the supposed reason for the Skripal’s survival was that the agent deposited on the door handle would have degraded by water present in the air moisture.
So my question is: are those chemicals degraded by water?
Also is it technicaly possible to identify those molecules with certitude within a few hours of the blood samples being retrieved (even assuming you know what you are looking for)?


No, it is persistent and slightly hydrophobic,rather like oil. It doesn't degrade or wash off with water very easily. The best analogue I can think of it that it behaves a bit like car engine oil, so can persist on surfaces for a long time, even if exposed to rain.

ORAC
5th Jul 2018, 06:05
KelvinD,

There is a difference between being the same variant and from the same batch.

News reports this this morning confirm the report that it was the same variant as being correct. The assumption by the authorities involved that it was, in fact, from the same batch.

ShotOne
5th Jul 2018, 06:33
"Now which one do I tend to believe..". More pointless innuendo from KelvinD.

Andy_S
5th Jul 2018, 07:42
Sky News were reporting that friends of the couple claimed that the critically ill pair found something in the Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury. Apparently they were having a picnic down by the river. Could they have stumbled upon the dispenser/canister either used in the Skripal attack or another one dumped by those involved?

The smart money seems to be on the unfortunate couple having inadvertently stumbled upon some discarded Novochik, in all probability hastily disposed of following the attack on the Skripals. Although I suppose it could equally be some of the original contamination not previously detected. I've heard nothing to suggest that this couple had any previous with the Russians so it seems they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. At least we know from the Skripal's experience that if they got prompt treatment they can be saved.

Pontius Navigator
5th Jul 2018, 07:51
Andy, if depend on the concentration. If the original attack used only a trace and a discarded container has more . . .

KelvinD
5th Jul 2018, 07:56
ShotOne: No "innuendo", either pointless or pointed. A rhetorical question, meant to point out that Orac is merely following his normal route of whipping up a frenzy where none may exist. But, to be fair to Orac, this morning I have heard experts claim that this agent is only fatal if ingested and then, along comes our Security Minister, Ben Wallace telling us merely touching the stuff can be dangerous. If the "experts" can't agree on a relatively simple thing as this, why should we have any faith at all in what we are being told (or fed)?
Ben Wallace's input included whipping up anti Russian sentiment, basically ridiculing them for denying any involvement. What if Russia genuinely had nothing to do with the Skripal affair? Yes, Novichok was developed and fabricated in Russia. So what? As I asked once before, BMW cars are designed and built in Germany. Is the German government responsible for every unpleasant incident involving a BMW vehicle? Until the proof has been produced of the Russian government's involvement, that government remains innocent. Or have the rules recently changed?
Going back to the "experts"; we have a couple emphatically stating Novichok is dangerous only if ingested. Well, that must throw the original Skripal presumption that the agent was spread via their touching a door handle into some doubt. Unless they will now speculate the pair were heavily into door handle licking! Similarly, with the Amesbury couple. I tend to go along with the theory they perhaps found something discarded from the Skripal attack. But, are we really expected to believe they found something in a park, picked it up and gave it a thorough tongue lashing? No, I don't either.
To anticipate the usual howls, I shall rebut the snide comments before they are posted: I do not "support" the Russian regime but I do support the practice of openness, fairness and the right to be considered innocent until someone proves otherwise.

highflyer40
5th Jul 2018, 08:14
ShotOne: No "innuendo", either pointless or pointed. A rhetorical question, meant to point out that Orac is merely following his normal route of whipping up a frenzy where none may exist. But, to be fair to Orac, this morning I have heard experts claim that this agent is only fatal if ingested and then, along comes our Security Minister, Ben Wallace telling us merely touching the stuff can be dangerous. If the "experts" can't agree on a relatively simple thing as this, why should we have any faith at all in what we are being told (or fed)?
Ben Wallace's input included whipping up anti Russian sentiment, basically ridiculing them for denying any involvement. What if Russia genuinely had nothing to do with the Skripal affair? Yes, Novichok was developed and fabricated in Russia. So what? As I asked once before, BMW cars are designed and built in Germany. Is the German government responsible for every unpleasant incident involving a BMW vehicle? Until the proof has been produced of the Russian government's involvement, that government remains innocent. Or have the rules recently changed?
Going back to the "experts"; we have a couple emphatically stating Novichok is dangerous only if ingested. Well, that must throw the original Skripal presumption that the agent was spread via their touching a door handle into some doubt. Unless they will now speculate the pair were heavily into door handle licking! Similarly, with the Amesbury couple. I tend to go along with the theory they perhaps found something discarded from the Skripal attack. But, are we really expected to believe they found something in a park, picked it up and gave it a thorough tongue lashing? No, I don't either.
To anticipate the usual howls, I shall rebut the snide comments before they are posted: I do not "support" the Russian regime but I do support the practice of openness, fairness and the right to be considered innocent until someone proves otherwise.


one of my my pet peeves. Why can’t people read and COMPREHEND what they are reading?

one person said it is only FATAL if ingested, and one said it is DANGEROUS to touch. Nobody has died so I would say no “door licking “ happened, but they have all been hospitalised in both incidents, so that would tend to lend credence to the dangerous aspect of touching it wouldn’t you say?

please just actually read something and comprehend what you are reading before spouting off.

VP959
5th Jul 2018, 08:14
ShotOne: No "innuendo", either pointless or pointed. A rhetorical question, meant to point out that Orac is merely following his normal route of whipping up a frenzy where none may exist. But, to be fair to Orac, this morning I have heard experts claim that this agent is only fatal if ingested and then, along comes our Security Minister, Ben Wallace telling us merely touching the stuff can be dangerous. If the "experts" can't agree on a relatively simple thing as this, why should we have any faith at all in what we are being told (or fed)?
Ben Wallace's input included whipping up anti Russian sentiment, basically ridiculing them for denying any involvement. What if Russia genuinely had nothing to do with the Skripal affair? Yes, Novichok was developed and fabricated in Russia. So what? As I asked once before, BMW cars are designed and built in Germany. Is the German government responsible for every unpleasant incident involving a BMW vehicle? Until the proof has been produced of the Russian government's involvement, that government remains innocent. Or have the rules recently changed?
Going back to the "experts"; we have a couple emphatically stating Novichok is dangerous only if ingested. Well, that must throw the original Skripal presumption that the agent was spread via their touching a door handle into some doubt. Unless they will now speculate the pair were heavily into door handle licking! Similarly, with the Amesbury couple. I tend to go along with the theory they perhaps found something discarded from the Skripal attack. But, are we really expected to believe they found something in a park, picked it up and gave it a thorough tongue lashing? No, I don't either.
To anticipate the usual howls, I shall rebut the snide comments before they are posted: I do not "support" the Russian regime but I do support the practice of openness, fairness and the right to be considered innocent until someone proves otherwise.

Just to add some facts about A234, rather than the media crap.

It behaves very like VX, but is almost certainly more toxic, to an unknown degree.

It can enter the body via the skin, mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth, genitals etc) fairly readily, with the time between contact and onset of symptoms being dependent on several variables, the main ones being the extent of the exposure (i.e. area covered plus concentration of agent) and the thickness of the skin/membrane. For example, contact with the thicker skin on the palms of the hands will delay the onset of symptoms compared with contact with mucous membranes like the eyes, nose or mouth.

If ingested either orally or by inhalation of vapour (the latter is not likely due to the relatively low vapour pressure) then the dose needed to produce symptoms is massively smaller and the onset of symptoms is very much faster, of the order of tens of seconds, rather than tens of minutes.

As already mentioned, it is highly persistent. No one knows for sure how long it can persist outside a container and exposed to the atmosphere, but, based on the persistence of similar organophosphate compounds I think it's reasonable to suggest that it will persist for years, perhaps decades, and still remain highly toxic.

Right now I've neither seen nor read any hard evidence that confirms that this substance is from the same batch of A234 as that used in the Skripal attack. Given the proximity to the Skripal attack and the confirmation that it is of the same class of former Soviet Union agent, it's reasonable to speculate that it may be the same, but this is just speculation until such time as the signature of the agent used this time has been independently compared to the reference signature, and that may well take some time to do.

ORAC
5th Jul 2018, 08:19
“Whipping up a frenzy” by reporting what is on the news? ��

No, nerve agent does not have to be ingested - merely a touch in the skin is enough. It wouldn’t have much value as a weapon otherwise.

p.s. it’s she, not he.

Just a spotter
5th Jul 2018, 09:01
I’m no expert, an online review of the persistence of Novichock yields mixed results. From what I can gather it’s down to the medium in which the agent is suspended when the two precursors are mixed and batch is created, with oil based carrier (such as used with VX) prolonging the persistency while a water based solution offers little long term protection to the active component.

JAS

clareprop
5th Jul 2018, 09:42
Some people here seem to want to see the good in Putin and his government. Under his tenure and not at all exhaustive, some proved facts....
Murdered: Alexander Litvinenko, Boris Nemtsov, Anna Politkovskaya. Imprisoned for being opposition to a 17-year dictatorship: Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Nadiya Savchenko, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina,Yekaterina Samutsevich et al.
Annexed:Crimea -10,000 dead. Killed: 283 people aboard Malaysia Flight 17. Add to this, the Skripal's, the two people currently being treated and hundreds of other people affected who flew on the BA aircraft, worked in hotels and restaurants, drove taxis etc when Litvinenko's poisoners were in town.
Still, a nice Olympic Games and The World Cup make up for it...

VP959
5th Jul 2018, 09:51
I’m no expert, an online review of the persistence of Novichock yields mixed results. From what I can gather it’s down to the medium in which the agent is suspended when the two precursors are mixed and batch is created, with oil based carrier (such as used with VX) prolonging the persistency while a water based solution offers little long term protection to the active component.

JAS

What we do know beyond any doubt at all, is that the A234 used against the Skripals was from a batch prepped by the Soviet Union during the early days of the novichok programme. That batch has defined characteristics that are known and unique, and it is known to be highly persistent and resistant to being washed away with water. This batch, that was used in the Skripal attack, is known to have been prepared at Shikhany, most probably during the 1980's.

There is a fair bit of media confusion between A232, or Novichok-5, which was developed under the novichok programme to be a viable chemical weapon, and A234, which seems to have been prepared but not extensively tested or weaponised, and not given a novichok weapon reference number (only four of the possibly hundreds of agents developed under the novichok programme were developed into weapons and given weapon reference numbers). My guess as to the reason for A234 not being developed further is possibly because of it's physical characteristics, it's persistence and the difficulty associated with decontaminating areas contaminated with A234, all factors that made it less attractive for further development as a weapon.

We know that A232, Novichok-5 was extensively developed and tested as a chemical weapon at Nukus, in what is now Uzbekistan, but there are no records of A234 having ever been tested there, and the stories told by people like Mirzayanov suggest that A234 was just stored at Shikhany, with no further work being done on it. Publicly available reports about the security (or otherwise) of places like Shikhany indicate that they were not safe or secure in the period following the break up of the Soviet Union.

Small samples of A234 from the batch prepared at Shikany were obtained by the West, before Russia stopped further CWC inspections, and were used to create the reference signatures held by several accredited labs around the world. These signatures formed the basis for the positive identification that A234 that had been produced at Shikhany was the specific agent used in the Skripal attack. The evidence for this is robust, with very little room for any error.

My guess is that we will know within the next day or two whether or not the signature of the agent that has affected the most recent casualties is from that same batch of A234 or not. Until then all we have is speculation, and much of the media speculation seems both confusing and unreliable.

Just a spotter
5th Jul 2018, 10:10
Thanks VP959

Having read the online descriptions, I was wondering if the ‘inert’ precursors may have been brought into the UK separately and then mixed there prior to their use in the original incident. If all final batches can be accurately identified, then that now seems an unlikely scenario.

JAS

VP959
5th Jul 2018, 10:26
Thanks VP959

Having read the online descriptions, I was wondering if the ‘inert’ precursors may have been brought into the UK separately and then mixed there prior to their use in the original incident. If all final batches can be accurately identified, then that now seems an unlikely scenario.

JAS

No, this was not the case for the A234 used in the Skripal attack, AFAIK. It was positively identified as coming from a batch prepared at Shikhany, possibly by Val Mirzayanov himself, back in the 1980's. The binary novichok agents were those developed for weapons use, and were most probably Novichok -5 and Novichok -7. It's possible that one, perhaps two, other novichok programme agents were weaponised in binary form, but from the information I have it seems that most of the testing and development work was done on Novichok -5 and Novichok -7, and I can find nothing in any of the literature that gives reliable information on any work done on A234. It is worth noting that Val Mirzayanov may not be the most reliable source, either. His book gives formulations for several agents in this series that do not tally with the structure of the compounds found at Shikhany, when it was inspected shortly after the break up of the Soviet Union. Whether these were simple mistakes on his part, or whether he tried to embellish things in his book to make it more saleable I don't know. I have some suspicion that Mirzayanov has been seeking publicity since the Skripal attack, perhaps to earn a bit of money from interviews, but I may be wrong.

BehindBlueEyes
5th Jul 2018, 10:47
The news reports, if they are accurate, seem to be leaning more and more towards this unfortunate couple finding some kind of container/receptacle that had been discarded in the local park. Residents are being asked not to pick up anything they find on the ground.

Judging by the state of Salisbury, last time I visited, the locals have been following this advice for quite a few years...

Flash2001
5th Jul 2018, 15:06
How do we know beyond any doubt? The amount recovered must be tiny and an assessment of the symptoms must me very sophisticated indeed to reveal the batch.

After an excellent landing etc...

VP959
5th Jul 2018, 16:28
How do we know beyond any doubt? The amount recovered must be tiny and an assessment of the symptoms must me very sophisticated indeed to reveal the batch.

After an excellent landing etc...

From the signature. Every prep will be very slightly different, primarily due to the very slight variations that occur during the purification phase, when converting the crude agent into pure agent. All of the labs that analysed samples from the Skripal attack found that the signature exactly matched that of the reference they held. The reference came from a sample taken from Shikhany when inspectors were allowed in after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Other labs have prepared small quantities of A234, for experimental purposes, and within the terms of the CWC, and they have been found to have a slightly different signature to the original samples from the former Soviet Union.

Only very small samples are needed for spectroscopic analysis now, and with so many labs giving the same result there has to be a very high degree of confidence that the original agent deployed in Salisbury came from a batch prepared at Shikhany, most probably in the 1980's. Apart from the spectroscopic signature being a very close match, the agent was also extremely pure. Had this been crude agent, as produced by, for example, a binary process, then those impurities would have shown up clearly.

racedo
5th Jul 2018, 17:15
The news reports, if they are accurate, seem to be leaning more and more towards this unfortunate couple finding some kind of container/receptacle that had been discarded in the local park. Residents are being asked not to pick up anything they find on the ground.

Judging by the state of Salisbury, last time I visited, the locals have been following this advice for quite a few years...

More tall stories being made up as we go along.

Suggesting that it may be picked up in a local park is pretty much claiming that in March / April / May / June that local council were not put clearing, cutting, planting and cleaning local park.
Amazingly no pets found these supposed receptables in that time which must be a first for anybody walking a dog and it amazingly appears during a World cup that is going well for the host nation when Mays govt is again lurching from crises to crises with Brexit.

The story will be updated every 3 months it appears when May's govt is in crises.

BehindBlueEyes
5th Jul 2018, 17:38
More tall stories being made up as we go along.

Suggesting that it may be picked up in a local park is pretty much claiming that in March / April / May / June that local council were not put clearing, cutting, planting and cleaning local park.
Amazingly no pets found these supposed receptables in that time which must be a first for anybody walking a dog and it amazingly appears during a World cup that is going well for the host nation when Mays govt is again lurching from crises to crises with Brexit.

The story will be updated every 3 months it appears when May's govt is in crises.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44727191

DaveReidUK
5th Jul 2018, 18:09
Suggesting that it may be picked up in a local park is pretty much claiming that in March / April / May / June that local council were not put clearing, cutting, planting and cleaning local park.
Amazingly no pets found these supposed receptables in that time which must be a first for anybody walking a dog and it amazingly appears during a World cup that is going well for the host nation when Mays govt is again lurching from crises to crises with Brexit.

Well don't keep us in suspense, your alternative explanation is eagerly awaited.

Is it all fake news, or are some bits of it true? Are the individuals who, we're told, are critically ill in hospital just faking their symptoms ? Or don't they exist ?

Pontius Navigator
5th Jul 2018, 18:29
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44727191


I see the auto correct affects BBC too:

" police believe the item they handled could be a container or reciprocal that was used to carry the nerve agent. "

atakacs
5th Jul 2018, 18:32
Some people here seem to want to see the good in Putin and his government. Under his tenure and not at all exhaustive, some proved facts....
Murdered: Alexander Litvinenko, Boris Nemtsov, Anna Politkovskaya. Imprisoned for being opposition to a 17-year dictatorship: Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Nadiya Savchenko, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina,Yekaterina Samutsevich et al.
Annexed:Crimea -10,000 dead. Killed: 283 people aboard Malaysia Flight 17. Add to this, the Skripal's, the two people currently being treated and hundreds of other people affected who flew on the BA aircraft, worked in hotels and restaurants, drove taxis etc when Litvinenko's poisoners were in town.
Still, a nice Olympic Games and The World Cup make up for it...

Not a huge fan of M. Putin but anyone seeing Khodorkovsky as an innocent victim is nothing short of deluded. I've been there at the time, I've seen him operate. Ruthless mobster, as many of his pears.

BehindBlueEyes
5th Jul 2018, 18:45
Closures in Salisbury centre as nerve agent focus returns to city | Salisbury Journal (http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/news/16336424.closures-in-salisbury-centre-as-nerve-agent-focus-returns-to-city/)


“At a press conference this afternoon representatives from Wiltshire Police, Public Health England and Wiltshire Council (http://www.salisburyjournal.co.uk/search/?search=Wiltshire+Council&topic_id=6564) failed to answer questions about how the pair came to be contaminated months on from extensive cleaning within the city.

It is believed that they came into contact with a container that held the original nerve agent used to poison Russian former-spy Sergei Skripal in March.”

To be fair, if the original perpetrator chucked the container some distance from the site of contamination, how far did the biological cleaning teams expect to have to extend the zone? The receptacle could have been discarded anywhere in the country.

VP959
5th Jul 2018, 18:51
All along I've held the personal view that the attack on the Skripals was not directly ordered by Putin or the Kremlin, but was carried out by people who both held a grudge against the way Skripal had betrayed his own people for money, and who may have seen that carrying out an act like this may curry favour with Putin, albeit via the back door.

The report from 1995 on the state of the former Soviet Union chemical weapons facilities makes it very clear that they were not at all secure and that with the dissolution of the former Soviet Union governmental security controls there was a significant risk that materiel could be removed from the facilities and used by non-state actors. Places like Shikhany were effectively wide open to exploitation at that time, and it seems quite probable that criminals could have obtained whatever materiel they wanted, perhaps aided and abetted by former workers at those facilities who were now not being paid, and perhaps more open to coercion.

If this was the case, then I doubt that the attackers would be particularly competent, or that bothered by the possibility of collateral damage. One possible scenario is that the attackers had a container with the A234 in, applied it to the door handle of Sergei Skripal's house, then walked across town and disposed of the container in an area well away from the house. Elizabeth Gardens has been mentioned, and that would be on a walking route from Sergei Skripal's house, North of the A36, to the least congested road exits from Salisbury, to the South West. There is a network of paths running across that area, with a route across to a relatively quiet area around Harnham where someone getting into a car and driving off would be very unlikely to attract attention. Such a route also avoids almost all the CCTV in the city and avoids the main ANPR cameras set up along the A36 and adjoining roads. This is just complete guesswork, but it does seem to fit reasonably well with the information that has been released so far.

Chronus
5th Jul 2018, 20:31
More tall stories being made up as we go along.

Suggesting that it may be picked up in a local park is pretty much claiming that in March / April / May / June that local council were not put clearing, cutting, planting and cleaning local park.
Amazingly no pets found these supposed receptables in that time which must be a first for anybody walking a dog and it amazingly appears during a World cup that is going well for the host nation when Mays govt is again lurching from crises to crises with Brexit.

The story will be updated every 3 months it appears when May's govt is in crises.

That`s because dogs, lurchers in particular, have more sense. Surely the most important question right now must be, how long does this concotion remain active in the open air.

Effluent Man
5th Jul 2018, 20:34
Well if your theory is correct, and you seem to be better informed than almost anyone on here, then the analogy of blaming the German government for every incident involving a BMW isn't too far fetched. There does seem to be a blame Putin agenda. It will be interesting to see how this plays next week if we see a. Russia v England game emerge from this weekend's quarter finals.

DaveReidUK
5th Jul 2018, 21:18
Surely the most important question right now must be, how long does this concotion remain active in the open air.

Appears to have been answered, at least partly, a few posts back:

As already mentioned, it is highly persistent. No one knows for sure how long it can persist outside a container and exposed to the atmosphere, but, based on the persistence of similar organophosphate compounds I think it's reasonable to suggest that it will persist for years, perhaps decades, and still remain highly toxic.

Yes, I realise we've long since passed the threshold where posters feel they have to look at what's already been written before adding their 2p worth. :O

KelvinD
5th Jul 2018, 22:51
highflyer40: That is a valid point re people reading and comprehending what they are reading. Give it a try! I didn't claim to have read anything. I had listened to the "experts" spouting off on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. And one of those "experts", Hamish de Bretton Gordon was very adamant, to the point almost of being strident that the nerve agent must be ingested and it does not work if only contacted via the skin. He extolled the virtues of the skin doing a good job of keeping out or at least severely attenuating the effects of the nerve agent. Soon after this, Ben Wallace came along and actually got into an argument with John Humphries over what de Bretton Gordon had said. Anturally, given that one is an actual expert with many years experience of this stuff while the other is an attention seeking politician. Now, which of that pair would you tend to believe?
Anyway, encore une fois; take your own advice re reading and comprehending.
Clareprop: Are you making things up yourself or getting them from Conservative Central Office? The official death toll in Crimea, as a result of the Russian annexation was 6. You gave 10,000. Hmm.
The US Dept of State estimated in 2015 there may have been as many as 400 Russian soldiers killed in the Donbass region. As there has been no other confirmation of this number, let's just take it for what it is, an estimation. Ukrainians on the other hand have been killing each other wholesale and we In Europe must take a share of the blame for that, having knowingly allowed this week's "good guys" to start the blood letting then claiming it was all down to the then current regime. I have a copy of a telephone conversation between the Estonian Foreign Minister to Dame Catherine Ashton, then the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security. The Estonian diplomat had been in Ukraine to find out what had been happening on the ground and was reporting his findings to her. When he said it looks as if the anti government mob had engineered things to start trouble and make it look as if it had all been the governmet's doing, she responded with words to the effect of "Yes, I know. It is terrible". I will concede that the downing of MH17 does seem to have been down to Russian involvement. As big a cock up as the downing of the Iranian Airbus.
I heard a view a few days ago to the effect that the Russians are pointing out they have never (at least in modern history) set out from their country to deliberately attack or invade another, unless provoked. WW2 would be a good example of that. Before getting worked up over their involvement in Afghanistan, one should remember they were there at the invitation of the then Afghan government.
Orac: I do apologise over the gender mishap. I actually had it in mind when writing the response but the slip twixt cup and lip came into play. So I do apologise for that and hope it didn't cause you any offence. Your assertion re reporting what was in the news was incorrect and my quote from the Met Police at the time showed it to be incorrect.

KelvinD
5th Jul 2018, 23:07
It gets better. Listening to the midnight news, Downing St has said the Novichok agent must have been contacted indoors as it degenerates and is destroyed on exposure to the elements.
Frank Gardner has just said it is lethal even through mere skin contact.
So there it is in a nutshell. Either a lot of people in authority are making things up or they are just plain lying. Personally, I think it is more likely they haven't a bloody clue and would serve us all better by shutting up until they do for certain what they know and what they are talking about.

racedo
5th Jul 2018, 23:54
That`s because dogs, lurchers in particular, have more sense. Surely the most important question right now must be, how long does this concotion remain active in the open air.

Er few people have Lurchers.

WingNut60
6th Jul 2018, 00:15
I see the auto correct affects BBC too:

" police believe the item they handled could be a container or reciprocal that was used to carry the nerve agent. "

They had to do something once they got rid of all of their editors and proof-readers and started hiring linguistic leprechauns to write for them.
Not quite as effective though.

VP959
6th Jul 2018, 06:34
The BBC did have a chemist on the 10pm news last night that confirmed that in his view the agent could remain lethal if left outside for years, and quoted from personal knowledge that he knew it had not degraded after 4 years exposure outside. He also confirmed that if in a container, say something like a used syringe, then it could remain viable for much longer.

There was a mention in the media (local radio, IIRC) yesterday, by someone who knew the two affected people, that they may have been inclined to pick up something like a syringe. I found that interesting, as a syringe would also have been a viable way to fairly safely apply the agent the to door handle of Sergei Skripal's house. This is all just speculation though, as we have no way of knowing what really happened.

Pontius Navigator
6th Jul 2018, 06:57
Kelvin, yes the Russians were invited in to Afghanistan but by a communist Government that had seized power in a coup.

Pontius Navigator
6th Jul 2018, 07:37
There is an interesting article here: https://www.bellingcat.com/resources/articles/2018/03/08/nerve-agents-what-are-they/

This explains the different types of agent and the meanings of the descriptions bandied about in the media and here. One thing seems clear, the meanings and teachings regarding military chemical agents concern only a subset of the whole range of chemicals. What we were taught about persistence in the military does not apply to all chemicals.

Expatrick
6th Jul 2018, 07:58
The BBC did have a chemist on the 10pm news last night that confirmed that in his view the agent could remain lethal if left outside for years, and quoted from personal knowledge that he knew it had not degraded after 4 years exposure outside.

And from the BBC this morning -

The nerve agent that poisoned a couple near Salisbury was unlikely to have been left in the open before they touched it, a government scientist has told BBC News.

Novichok can be degraded by rainwater and sunlight over time - meaning it was probably discovered by the pair in a contained space, the source added.

WingNut60
6th Jul 2018, 08:31
Kelvin, yes the Russians were invited in to Afghanistan but by a communist Government that had seized power in a coup.

Now there's an over-simplification for you.
More like "......communist Government that had seized power in a coup that replaced a Government that had seized power in a coup that replaced a Government that had seized power in a coup."
And overlooks the involvement of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on that occasion, and later.

And not at all like what happened in the Ukraine in 2014 - except in reverse?

At least the Gorbachev could see some sense and started pulling out after 4-5 years.
And did so after 9 years.
Whereas we (collectively) have now been in there for 17 years.

VP959
6th Jul 2018, 09:37
And from the BBC this morning -


Novichok can be degraded by rainwater and sunlight over time - meaning it was probably discovered by the pair in a contained space, the source added.

True, but it takes many years to do so, which is what wasn't included in that excerpt from a much longer piece. It's pretty typical crap reporting; the media snip a bite out of a statement without including the all-important caveats.

The reality is that all organophosphates of this type (and A234 isn't particularly unusual) are very stable and are not at all easy to get to decompose. Heat will do it quickly, but we talking about temperatures of several hundred deg C. It can be chemically decomposed, too, but that involves powerful acid and alkali treatments that themselves would pose a significant risk.

Having said that, I suspect it was in a container and wouldn't be at all surprised to find that the container was a used syringe.

G-CPTN
6th Jul 2018, 11:24
I suspect it was in a container and wouldn't be at all surprised to find that the container was a used syringe.
As at least one of the couple was on methadone, they surely wouldn't be tempted to use a syringe that they found 'to see what kind of a hit they got'? Would they?

BehindBlueEyes
6th Jul 2018, 11:39
Having said that, I suspect it was in a container and wouldn't be at all surprised to find that the container was a used syringe.

The press are being rather coy about how this couple spent a lot of their recreational time but the John Baker House in Salisbury is a well known hostel with many occupants who suffer from substance abuse. Most adults with common sense do not pick up discarded syringes (which reports are pointing more and more to) so sadly, it looks like the perfect storm. Medics first on the scene were initially treating the female victim for a dodgy heroin batch.

Sallyann1234
6th Jul 2018, 11:49
As at least one of the couple was on methadone, they surely wouldn't be tempted to use a syringe that they found 'to see what kind of a hit they got'? Would they?
They wouldn't need to use it to be infected. As a regular drug user, just picking up the syringe out of curiosity would be sufficient.
I'm sure the authorities' biggest concern will be to hear from one of them whereabouts they may have picked up (and dropped) such an item. Not just to stop further infections, but it would be vital evidence.

TEEEJ
6th Jul 2018, 12:02
highflyer40: That is a valid point re people reading and comprehending what they are reading. Give it a try! I didn't claim to have read anything. I had listened to the "experts" spouting off on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. And one of those "experts", Hamish de Bretton Gordon was very adamant, to the point almost of being strident that the nerve agent must be ingested and it does not work if only contacted via the skin. He extolled the virtues of the skin doing a good job of keeping out or at least severely attenuating the effects of the nerve agent. Soon after this, Ben Wallace came along and actually got into an argument with John Humphries over what de Bretton Gordon had said. Anturally, given that one is an actual expert with many years experience of this stuff while the other is an attention seeking politician. Now, which of that pair would you tend to believe?
.

BBC Newshour 5 July 2018 Hamish de Bretton-Gordon

From 00:24 in following 4 minute audio clip

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06cy91h

... what it does when you ingest it. If you breathe it in it reacts very quickly. It attacks your nerves and your nerves very quickly fall down and your bodily functions stop. You can also absorb it through your skin and that takes a lot longer and there is a suggestion that these people have taken over possibly 12 hours to become ill so it might have been absorption through the skin rather than breathing in.

Stan Woolley
6th Jul 2018, 13:27
Another input some months back.

https://youtu.be/J4utEI2EU64

DaveReidUK
6th Jul 2018, 13:51
Another input some months back.

Thanks for that.

"Chris therefore concludes that this whole affair is a tissue of lies and misdirection, rather like the WMD Iraq scenario and is aimed at creating a war with Russia that no one can win and where all life will lose. Why is this being done? Because the only way for the rich and powerful to escape the coming US Economic catastrophe caused by the destruction of the petrodollar is to pull the house down and hope to escape in the general confusion and disaster from the wreckage."

Gosh.

Krystal n chips
6th Jul 2018, 13:59
True, but it takes many years to do so, which is what wasn't included in that excerpt from a much longer piece. It's pretty typical crap reporting; the media snip a bite out of a statement without including the all-important caveats.

The reality is that all organophosphates of this type (and A234 isn't particularly unusual) are very stable and are not at all easy to get to decompose. Heat will do it quickly, but we talking about temperatures of several hundred deg C. It can be chemically decomposed, too, but that involves powerful acid and alkali treatments that themselves would pose a significant risk.

Having said that, I suspect it was in a container and wouldn't be at all surprised to find that the container was a used syringe.

Well yes, all media tend to edit their reports. They don't, after all, have the luxury of a forum to explain the intricacies of chemical agents to a rapt world.

However, this does beg the question.

If the reports are, ostensibly, so devoid of accuracy, and various experts are also dismissed as being potentially flawed in their veracity, why is it, that, with all the expertise promoted on here, to the best of my knowledge you have not yet been invited to comment in the broader media press or on television . Surely such expertise would have been welcomed if not seized upon given the international ( and local ) significance of these events.

Blue eyes.....not entirely true about the press being "coy" with the couples background. From the onset, there have been several reports which have included some quite detailed references, the only surprise being these were not commented on here on JB.... in some derogatory manner.

Pontius Navigator
6th Jul 2018, 14:16
As a regulator drug user, just picking up the syringe out of curiosity would be sufficient.
What are you implying here? Who the regulator drug user?

WingNut60
6th Jul 2018, 14:21
As at least one of the couple was on methadone, they surely wouldn't be tempted to use a syringe that they found 'to see what kind of a hit they got'? Would they?

I thought that they were reported as an elderly couple.
That doesn't exclude then from being on a methadone program, of course.
But in my minds eye I was seeing my grand-parent stooping to pick up rubbish in the park.

G-CPTN
6th Jul 2018, 14:26
Charlie Rowley, 45, and Dawn Sturgess, 44.

Based on information from a friend and items found at the flat, Wiltshire Police initially thought the pair had fallen ill after using a contaminated batch of heroin or crack cocaine.

WingNut60
6th Jul 2018, 14:30
Charlie Rowley, 45, and Dawn Sturgess, 44.

Oh well. Whatever they were thinking, they didn't deserve this.

VP959
6th Jul 2018, 14:36
Interesting listening to Dr Chris Busby. Taking his points in turn:

1. You do not need a state actor to synthesise A234. Any competent and well-equipped organic chemist would be able to synthesise A234. This is true, but there are two published variants of A234, and there is no information available in the public domain as to which matches the specific compound that was made at Shikhany in the 1980s. To the best of my knowledge, the only people who have the reference signature for A234, taken from analysis of samples taken from Shikhany at the time it was subject to international inspection in 1995, are OPCW accredited laboratories.

2. Analysis would need to be carried out using a GC/MS technique, which would give a signature for the compound. This is true. However, his next statement is flawed, as he says that a reference sample is needed for comparison. Technology has moved on since his day, and now there are many libraries of reference signatures held electronically, so there is no requirement to have a separate reference sample now.

3. His comments about comparing a measured sample against a reference to identify exactly what it is and where it was synthesised are correct. In this instance we have the reference signature for the A234 manufactured at Shikhany in the 1980s, thanks to the samples that were collected during the 1995 CWC inspection. He is mistaken when he says that DSTL Porton Down could not have obtained, or rather did not hold, the reference signature for A234 obtained from the samples collected in 1995. Like all OPCW accredited laboratories, they hold secure reference libraries that are always up to date. Therefore he is mistaken, or more accurately he is lying, when he says that DSTL Porton Down could not have concluded where the analysed samples of A234 were original synthesised, as they held reference signatures for the Shikhany samples.

4. He asks how DSTL Porton Down obtained samples of A234 from Shikhany. The answer is simple, and in the public domain if he cared to look. There was a CWC inspection in 1995 when samples were taken, the facilities were inspected and a report (that is available in the public domain) was published. It makes grim reading, but nevertheless it shows that the international community did have access to these facilities shortly after the collapes of the Soviet Union, and did carefully record everything they found. All that data has been retained and forms a part of the internationally held database of chemical warfare agents.

5. He mentions that the US synthesised it. In fact I believe that several accredited labs have synthesised it, under the CWC rules that allow up to 100mg to be synthesised for experimental purposes. However, that doesn't help with analysis much, as as he rightly says, there is a unique signature to every synthesis, or more accurately, there is a unique signature associated with the purification process post-synthesis. That means that any synthesised sample would be very slightly different to the agent that was prepared at Shikhany, and recovered from there in 1995.

6. He declares that it was a false flag operation, based on deeply flawed thinking, plus a lack of fundamental knowledge as to how the CWC and particularly the OPCW, operate. It would have been extremely difficult, to the point of being impossible, to have arranged for every independent OPCW laboratory that analysed samples of A234, independently taken from the Skripals, to have concluded that the spectroscopic signature they obtained exactly matched that of the sample of A234 that was manufactured at Shikhany in the 1980s. To a great extent he's shot himself in the foot by highlighting the unique signature of any synthesis/purification, and then concluding that this was not used to determine the origin of the agent used against the Skripals.

Perhaps he should do some basic research, and look in particular at the work that was undertaken shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, when there was widespread concern about the safety and security of former Soviet facilities. The paper on the 1995 CWC inspections would be a good starting point; had he read just that alone he would have understood why it is possible to be so definitive about the compound. I suggest he also needs to go and visit a modern lab and take a look at the capabilities of a modern GC/MS machine - he may well get a bit of a shock, as things have changed a fair bit since the last time he used one, from the sound of things.

BehindBlueEyes
6th Jul 2018, 14:42
I thought that they were reported as an elderly couple.
That doesn't exclude then from being on a methadone program, of course.
But in my minds eye I was seeing my grand-parent stooping to pick up rubbish in the park.

I’m afraid I’m one of those farts that goes around huffily collecting rubbish from the hedgerows but there are certain objects I tend to avoid - soiled tissues, syringes or anything vaguely connected with bodily fluids. That's not to say that biological toxins might be transported in any ordinary looking bottle etc.

As as an aside, I do however remember picking up a glass fruit juice bottle that was still full of liquid and being puzzled why anyone would just throw it out of their car in passing. It dawned on me, just as I deposited it in the nearest bin, that just because it was labelled apple juice and was a similar colour that the contents might not have been quite what I initially thought they were..! :eek:

Stan Woolley
6th Jul 2018, 16:38
He declares that it was a false flag operation, based on deeply flawed thinking

Why do you consider his thinking ‘deeply flawed’?

VP959
6th Jul 2018, 17:26
Why do you consider his thinking ‘deeply flawed’?



Because he hasn't bothered to look at the evidence. Also his knowledge of GC/MS seems to be around 30 years out of date. Yes, reference samples were routinely used in the pretty crude GC/MS machines used in the early 1970's, as calibration of machines was very much a dark art, particularly after flushing them through to clean them, and we had no way of storing data back then, just chart plots of the ionic mass as the substance passed through the chromatographic separation tube in the machine and passed the sensor. These plots were made at the time the machine was running, so to do a comparison a reference sample was needed, and had to be run through the machine as quickly as possible after the test sample, to ensure that it would be analysed under very similar conditions. That's not the case with modern kit though, that digitally record, sample and compare results against digital reference signatures. As as a scientist he has an obligation to get himself up to date before making misleading and false pronouncements to the entire globe.

In 1995, there was an extensive inspection of all the former Soviet chemical agent development, manufacture and test sites. The reports are in the public domain. It's clear from those, and from the reports given by the other OPCW accredited laboratories that analysed the independently-taken samples from the Skripals that the very specific variant of A234 that was used in Salisbury was manufactured at the Shikhany facility in Russia in the 1980s; it may well even have been a batch manufactured by Val Mirzayanov himself . This may be quite likely, as according to Mirzayanov he was the only chemist there that synthesised and purified A234, and they considered it to be unsuitable for use as a chemical weapon and so discontinued work on it. It seems they focussed their efforts on producing much cruder binary agents, like A232 (Novichok -5) because they had properties that made them more suited to use as a weapon.

Stan Woolley
6th Jul 2018, 21:30
Tweet from Charles Shoebridge.

#Syria rebel claims of #Douma nerve agent use were repeated by US UK France govts, media, spy agencies, think tanks and 'experts'. Anyone who expressed doubts was branded an 'Assad apologist'. Now, @OPCW confirms no traces of any Douma nerve agent at all

opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW…

Andy_S
6th Jul 2018, 22:24
Just Chlorinated Organic Chemicals. So that's all right, I suppose..........

Stan Woolley
7th Jul 2018, 07:05
Just Chlorinated Organic Chemicals. So that's all right, I suppose..........

Perhaps following criticism of its inaccurate coverage of @OPCW #Douma report, the BBC has corrected its previous false claim of OPCW having confirmed Douma as a chlorine attack. Now, more accurately, it reports that OPCW found 'possible chlorine at site'

twitter.com/ShoebridgeC/st…

KelvinD
7th Jul 2018, 07:09
Teej: I just listened to that World Service clip and found it very interesting when compared to the original I had heard on the Today programme:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b85mct
de Bretton Gordon's piece begins around 1:12:40. In that piece he quite clearly states things such as You can brush past the stuff without becoming ill and cites the example of the 32 others affected during the Skripal incident. He also makes the point of how resilient the skin is. One quote at 1:13:20 is "It is the ingestion of this Novichok that has mad them seriously ill". He finishes up at around 1:15:45 by saying "If you don't ingest it, you are probably not going to become ill".
So, comparing one interview with the other, it would seem the public's best bet is to take no notice of the "experts" and the government's best advice would be to shut their collective gobs until something definitive is shown and proved!

VP959
7th Jul 2018, 07:10
Tweet from Charles Shoebridge.
#Syria rebel claims of #Douma nerve agent use were repeated by US UK France govts, media, spy agencies, think tanks and 'experts'. Anyone who expressed doubts was branded an 'Assad apologist'. Now, @OPCW confirms no traces of any Douma nerve agent at all
opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW…
Getting sidetracked into what may or may not have happened, or be happening, in Syria is irrelevant to this thread.

There is no doubt at all as to what the A234 agent used against the Skripals was, or where it was manufactured.

We know beyond any reasonable doubt where the agent was made, Shikhany, in Russia. We know that it was deployed deliberately in Salisbury against Sergei Skripal, a former Russian intelligence officer, and his daughter.

We do not know who deployed it, but it must have been someone who had the expertise the handle the material and access to A234 that had been manufactured in Shikhany in the 1980s. That makes it highly probable that the perpetrator was Russian, although we have no way of knowing whether or not they were acting under the direct orders of the Russian government. My personal view is that they may not have been - it may have been a strong personal grudge against Sergei Skripal by one or more of his former colleagues that he had betrayed.

We know that the agent that has caused two people to fall seriously ill this week is the same as that used against the Skripals, A234. We do no know yet whether it is from the same batch manufactured at Shikhany in the 1980s, although given the proximity of the latest victims to the location of the original attack it seems probable that they may have come into contact with something contaminated that was discarded by the attacker(s).

Can we please keep any debates about Syria off this thread, as that has no relation at all to it. The key point here is that the agent used in Salisbury was not one developed and manufactured by the current state of Russia, per se, but by the former Soviet Union. The two are different, even though many seem to get them confused with each other for some reason.

Stan Woolley
7th Jul 2018, 10:00
Getting sidetracked into what may or may not have happened, or be happening, in Syria is irrelevant to this thread.

Really? It think it may all be connected, after all it is all meant to stir anti-Russian feeling. To dismiss it as ‘irrelevant to this thread’ is flawed thinking in my opinion.

The thread that accompanied this one about the attack in Syria seems to have dropped off the radar into someone’s databank so I added them to this one.

VP959
7th Jul 2018, 10:09
Really? It think it may all be connected, after all it is all meant to stir anti-Russian feeling. To dismiss it as ‘irrelevant to this thread’ is flawed thinking in my opinion.

The thread that accompanied this one about the attack in Syria seems to have dropped off the radar into someone’s databank so I added them to this one.



The attack in Salisbury was undertaken using a Soviet Union manufactured agent.

AFAIK, no Soviet Union manufactured agents have been used in Syria.

I suggest that the mods take action to keep this thread on topic and not allow it to be sidetracked into another political debate about Syria, that has no relevance at all to either the agent used in this attack or the state that manufactured it.

racedo
7th Jul 2018, 11:13
Getting sidetracked into what may or may not have happened, or be happening, in Syria is irrelevant to this thread.


Nope it isn't because it was clear an attack did not occur and Western Governments lied, then launched an attack based on that lie.

We have seen the same with the Skripal incident, it has been "Trust us we have the evidence". Even UK allied have not seen any evidence.


There is no doubt at all as to what the A234 agent used against the Skripals was, or where it was manufactured.


You know no such thing.
You have seen zero evidence just what Government is claiming.

Original claim was all over the news with Boris making statement after statement.......................... seems strangely quiet now.


Can we please keep any debates about Syria off this thread, as that has no relation at all to it. The key point here is that the agent used in Salisbury was not one developed and manufactured by the current state of Russia, per se, but by the former Soviet Union. The two are different, even though many seem to get them confused with each other for some reason.

UK Govt lying and manufacturing propoganda has been seen in Syria, but somehow they telling the truth when it suits.

racedo
7th Jul 2018, 11:19
The attack in Salisbury was undertaken using a Soviet Union manufactured agent.

Evidence ?
The agent was first made in USSR, no proof never made since.


I suggest that the mods take action to keep this thread on topic and not allow it to be sidetracked into another political debate about Syria, that has no relevance at all to either the agent used in this attack or the state that manufactured it.

Government lying to start wars is endemic in Western Politicians................... UK Govt used this and other false claims for an attack on a Sovreign country.

Pontius Navigator
7th Jul 2018, 12:11
Government lying to start wars is endemic in Western Politicians................... UK Govt used this and other false claims for an attack on a Sovreign country.
That is a very dangerous ploy. Any Government doing that would fall and any Prime Mine doing so would be impeached.

Oh, just had a thought . . . ☺

VP959
7th Jul 2018, 12:29
Evidence ?
The agent was first made in USSR, no proof never made since.


This has been said several times before, but bears repeating. Every time a compound like this (or pretty much anything else) is synthesised and purified it ends up with a unique signature. A common example is petrol - a sample can tell you not only which refinery it came from but also which delivery lorry took it to the fuel station and there is a good chance that the actual fuel station tank that dispensed it can also be identified. In the propaganda clip from YouTube posted earlier even Dr Buzby confirmed that, although he clearly isn't up to date on modern GC/MS analysis techniques.

In the case of the A234 that was deployed against the Skripals in Salisbury, it's signature EXACTLY matched that of a sample of A234 manufactured and purified in Shikhany in the 1980s. We know this because an international inspection team went there and reference samples were taken, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. That same inspection team also reported that the facilities they visited were in poor condition and not well secured, and that there was, in there view, a risk of materiel being removed from them without due process.

Several labs around the world have manufactured and purified A234, I believe, all working within the OPCW rules of not holding more than 100g of any agent made for experimental purposes at any one time. Each of these other samples of A234 will have had a different signature to the reference sample from Shikhany, because very small variations from lab to lab, or between one chemist and another, will result in tiny, but detectable, differences in the trace compounds present in the purified agent. Think of it like a fingerprint, where the GC/MS analysis can not only determine the agent, but can also confirm whether or not it matched the signature of a particular batch.

racedo
7th Jul 2018, 12:45
This has been said several times before, but bears repeating. Every time a compound like this (or pretty much anything else) is synthesised and purified it ends up with a unique signature. A common example is petrol - a sample can tell you not only which refinery it came from but also which delivery lorry took it to the fuel station and there is a good chance that the actual fuel station tank that dispensed it can also be identified. In the propaganda clip from YouTube posted earlier even Dr Buzby confirmed that, although he clearly isn't up to date on modern GC/MS analysis techniques.

In the case of the A234 that was deployed against the Skripals in Salisbury, it's signature EXACTLY matched that of a sample of A234 manufactured and purified in Shikhany in the 1980s. We know this because an international inspection team went there and reference samples were taken, shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. That same inspection team also reported that the facilities they visited were in poor condition and not well secured, and that there was, in there view, a risk of materiel being removed from them without due process.

Several labs around the world have manufactured and purified A234, I believe, all working within the OPCW rules of not holding more than 100g of any agent made for experimental purposes at any one time. Each of these other samples of A234 will have had a different signature to the reference sample from Shikhany, because very small variations from lab to lab, or between one chemist and another, will result in tiny, but detectable, differences in the trace compounds present in the purified agent. Think of it like a fingerprint, where the GC/MS analysis can not only determine the agent, but can also confirm whether or not it matched the signature of a particular batch.

Now the easiest way to confirm a fingerprint matches something that you have found is to change the stored fingerprint and what is behind it.

You have an indepth knowledge of the process but you have seen no more evidence that the Govt minister shouting from the rooftop.

Timing as always is strange.

VP959
7th Jul 2018, 13:41
Now the easiest way to confirm a fingerprint matches something that you have found is to change the stored fingerprint and what is behind it.

You have an indepth knowledge of the process but you have seen no more evidence that the Govt minister shouting from the rooftop.

Timing as always is strange.

I can't see how on earth all the member states that hold the reference signatures to these compounds (and they include accredited labs in neutral states like Switzerland, for example) could possible all be involved in the sort of conspiracy that you're alleging may have happened. Quite apart from anything else, knowing exactly which lab prepared an agent, and when, provides no evidence whatsoever as to who the perpetrator of the attack could be. As already stated (and you can find it as easily as anyone else - it's all in the public domain), the security of the former Soviet Union facilities was dire when they were inspected by an international team in 1995. I don't think it's stretching things to say that any international criminal organisation, with the right knowledge and skills, could have obtained chemical agents from Shikhany.

Given the circumstances that existed in Russia immediately after the fall of the Soviet Empire I can easily believe that materiel could have been misappropriated, much as weapons were - remember the glut of former Soviet weapons that came on to the open market after the collapse of the Soviet Union?

The key questions are:

1 - Who could have obtained the materiel from Shikhany?

2 - Who had the knowledge to handle and deploy it effectively?

3 - Who had a motive to try to kill a former Russian intelligence officer that had betrayed his friends and country?

The simplest answers to those questions are:

1 - A Russian who had knowledge of what was in Shikhany

2 - A person who could have come from anywhere, but who had been trained by people who knew a fair bit about the specific agent and how to handle and deploy it as an effective weapon (that rules out a fair few states who just didn't have the knowledge of the novichok/foliant programme).

3 - A Russian who felt very strongly that his country, and perhaps his friends or colleagues, had been betrayed by Sergei Skripal.

Nothing directly points to Russian state action. A fair bit points very directly to Russian state inaction, like their gross failure to make the former Soviet Union chemical weapons sites safe and secure.

That's as far as it goes at the moment, and I believe the thrust of the diplomatic outrage is driven by the failure of Russia to control the security of the chemical weapons sites. Some of this is driven by Russia's failure to allow full and free inspections over the past few years, something that in itself suggests that the country may not want to reveal their lack of work in making these sites safe and secure, or that they are aware that materiel has "gone missing", but do not want that to be publicly revealed.

Lascaille
7th Jul 2018, 14:29
I can't see how on earth all the member states that hold the reference signatures to these compounds (and they include accredited labs in neutral states like Switzerland, for example) could possible all be involved in the sort of conspiracy that you're alleging may have happened.

Racedo has fairly obviously taken a position and is considering the reported views against his own position, but notwithstanding that he makes a point.

You claim existing connections from your reported former employment in the field but I'm sure your friends are not breaching the official secrets act on your behalf.

You therefore 'know' what we 'know' which is what we're told - that the collected samples match the stored signature of the samples taken from the Shikany facility.

I personally believe that story, but from an aggressive perspective state authorities can't be trusted because they're not independent when it comes to one state accusing another state of an action.

Assume a UK defense facility having kept small quantities of the Shikany samples.

Please don't say 'but they didn't' as I do not believe your former seniority would allow you to 'know' - if you did 'know' you would be breaching the official secrets act by confirming one way or another.

Those samples could then be sent on to the foreign labs - and our own labs as - 'samples from the site.'

You understand the principle here, don't you? This is one state accusing another state of something. You cannot simply assume that things are not being changed behind the scenes when states have agencies who's entire business is doing exactly that.

Do I believe that has happened? No, because the UK government has nothing to gain from fabricating these accusations against Russia at this point in time.

Do I believe it could happen if - for reasons I'm not aware of - there was something to gain? Of course. Why not? Why would it not be possible?

VP959
7th Jul 2018, 14:57
Racedo has fairly obviously taken a position and is considering the reported views against his own position, but notwithstanding that he makes a point.

You claim existing connections from your reported former employment in the field but I'm sure your friends are not breaching the official secrets act on your behalf.

You therefore 'know' what we 'know' which is what we're told - that the collected samples match the stored signature of the samples taken from the Shikany facility.

I personally believe that story, but from an aggressive perspective state authorities can't be trusted because they're not independent when it comes to one state accusing another state of an action.

Assume a UK defense facility having kept small quantities of the Shikany samples.

Please don't say 'but they didn't' as I do not believe your former seniority would allow you to 'know' - if you did 'know' you would be breaching the official secrets act by confirming one way or another.

Those samples could then be sent on to the foreign labs - and our own labs as - 'samples from the site.'

You understand the principle here, don't you? This is one state accusing another state of something. You cannot simply assume that things are not being changed behind the scenes when states have agencies who's entire business is doing exactly that.

Do I believe that has happened? No, because the UK government has nothing to gain from fabricating these accusations against Russia at this point in time.

Do I believe it could happen if - for reasons I'm not aware of - there was something to gain? Of course. Why not? Why would it not be possible?

I'm going on published information, some of it old, some of it new, including that from the independent OPCW labs that collected samples from the Skripal attack and analysed them in their own facilities. I've never claimed any information came from my formers employers or former colleagues. I can state categorically that none did, and that I have not spoken to any one of them about this affair.

All the independent OPCW accredited labs came to the same, independent conclusion. It's hard to see how there could be a conspiracy to skew those conclusions, especially given the pretty fierce independence of some of the labs involved.

I'm of the view that generally the simplest explanation is often the correct one. Try this on for size:

Sergei Skripal has undoubtedly serious pissed off a number of his former colleagues in the Russian intelligence services. They would have known about, and in all probability had access to, the agent used, and would almost certainly have had access to the expertise needed to handle and deploy it. Did they do this with the knowledge or assistance of the Russian government? Who knows, but if I had to guess I'd say that they did not, but they probaby had a pretty good idea that the Russian government wouldn't lose any sleep over their covert actions. The delay between Sergei Skripal arriving in the UK and being attacked could just be down to someone, or several people, waiting until after they had retired from service before seeking their revenge. Doing that also adds another layer of plausible deniability as far as the Russian government is concerned.

I doubt we'll ever know for sure who undertook this attack or for what reason, but right now I reckon the above is as good a theory as any other.

Lascaille
7th Jul 2018, 15:33
I'm going on published information, some of it old, some of it new, including that from the independent OPCW labs that collected samples from the Skripal attack and analysed them in their own facilities.

As I said, I don't really doubt the narrative as to what happened - I didn't know however that the OPCW labs sent their own teams to take their own samples, but a quick search shows multiple sources confirming they did.

As to the why and who - I don't want to accuse from memory but as I can't really be bothered to read back either I will do exactly that - from my memory, you did seem to be quite adamant 40 pages ago that only a state actor could be responsible. The scenario you outlined now is refreshing.

Although personally I think, as with the polonium, both the weapon and the victim were chosen to send a message - that 'they' will never forget those who betrayed them, that nowhere is safe and that everybody will know who did it while being simultaneously being unable to prove it or do anything about it. Don't you think? But was it the same 'they' in both circumstances and will it be the same 'they' next time? And are 'they' directed and financed officially? Or rogue? Or both?

Pontius Navigator
7th Jul 2018, 15:38
States are not singular people, States are composed of many individuals of all political hues and even nationalities. Getting might eliminate some from particular roles but so many people can be involved that it would be difficult to conceal the truth.

One might cite Dr Kelly, but 15 years on and the story remains as suicide.

KelvinD
7th Jul 2018, 16:10
Re Dr Kelly, I recommend people read the book recently published on that topic. Published by Miles Goslett and titled "An Inconvenient Death" it is, in places, startling and worrying.

VP959
7th Jul 2018, 16:14
Er, he was outed as a whistleblower and had a security clearance, then was cross-examined by a bunch of MPs who - as usual - didn't pass up an opportunity to start peacocking and acting tough.

Does that normally result in a quiet retirement with one's pension intact or a prosecution and subsequent penury?

Plenty kill themselves for less.

If you read the transcript of the enquiry you will discover a lot of other things that were putting pressure on David at the time, unconnected with the inspections. For example, for years he'd been in a fairly hostile argument with his owning establishment HR department about his pay grade, He alleged that whilst he was on secondment he was not properly being assessed for promotion/pay, and things were, according to the evidence presented, pretty acrimonious. As an individual I'd describe him as being more sensitive than most, and although pretty normal by the standards of many scientists, I think it's fair to say that some from other backgrounds might have found hima bit eccentric. He had a tendency to get very focussed, and often upset, about things that others might just shrug off, for example.

He was badly managed by both the establishment he was employed by and also by the departments that he was seconded to, IMHO. He was allowed, at his own request, to stay on a stressful secondment for more than double the period of time that would normally be allowed. Secondments are time-limited for good reasons, often associated with the mental well-being of the person that's seconded away from home.

Reading all the evidence, it's fairly easy to understand how he could have been in a frame of mind where he may have considered suicide even before the debacle with Gilligan and the subsequent pretty vicious way the government effectively threw him to the wolves. I don't know anyone that knew him that doubts the suicide verdict at all, all just feel sad that they didn't do something sooner to help him.

racedo
7th Jul 2018, 17:22
States are not singular people, States are composed of many individuals of all political hues and even nationalities. Getting might eliminate some from particular roles but so many people can be involved that it would be difficult to conceal the truth.

One might cite Dr Kelly, but 15 years on and the story remains as suicide.

Some of us remember the fight between Met Police and MI5 regarding who is in charge of anti Terror operations................. Met Police lost after lots of dirty tricks.

One only has to look at Northen Ireland where MI5 / MI6 / Army Intell and RUC were all operating and on many occasions against each other................... I have little doubt there are deaths which one or other of these allowed to occur as it was in "their" best interested, not the Govt's, their own organoisations which came first.

whale1776
7th Jul 2018, 17:36
VP, don’t waste your time giving facts to people. There are some on here who have taken a decision to support the Russians and no inconvenient facts will dissuade them from that viewpoint.

KelvinD
7th Jul 2018, 20:08
VP959: The inquiry was a travesty. Why, for example, did Hutton order certain files to be hidden from public view for 70 years and why was the Oxford coroner expressly prohibited from carrying out his legal functions? No inquest has yet been carried out. And it is no good quoting Hutton, he did not have the legal standing or duties of a coroner. And, finally, why did Blair order an enquiry be set up within hours of Dr. Kelly's death being reported? From a BA flight over the Pacific Ocean no less! try to read the book. It doesn't provide any answers but it does provoke many questions.

VP959
7th Jul 2018, 20:22
I read every single bit of evidence from the Hutton enquiry, every day as it was posted online.

I've spoken with David's line manager and colleagues.

The government certainly behaved atrociously, as did his line management, and, in particular, the HR team that were supposedly looking after him, but who were, IMHO, grossly negligent.

My understanding, and I've no reason at all to doubt it, is that the sealed information has been sealed in order to protect his family. Some may wish to read all sorts of conspiracies into any action taken, but my own view is that he took his own life, whilst the balance of his mind was seriously disturbed. I'm not alone in forming that view; every single person I have met who knew him, and had worked with him, has the same view. Some feel a great deal of guilt about not having done more to help him, but, from what I've been told, he was not an easy person to help.

Nothing I write here will stop those who feel the need to believe conspiracy theories to continue to do so, but I'll stick to my view that he was let down by the system, and screwed by a government who did not want to hear the truth.

Sallyann1234
7th Jul 2018, 21:16
Nothing I write here will stop those who feel the need to believe conspiracy theories to continue to do so, but I'll stick to my view that he was let down by the system, and screwed by a government who did not want to hear the truth.
To my mind, that means the system and the government were to a large degree culpable.

Lascaille
7th Jul 2018, 22:00
To my mind, that means the system and the government were to a large degree culpable.

Do you think the comments made upthread about David Kelly were made by:

1. People who think that 'they' were 'culpable' with regard to his suicide?

2. People who think 'they' exterminated him and perverted the course of justice?

G-CPTN
7th Jul 2018, 22:54
Police officer in hospital over ‘possible Novichok exposure’ (https://metro.co.uk/2018/07/07/police-officer-hospital-possible-novichok-exposure-7691479/)

fitliker
8th Jul 2018, 04:23
Fear not , you can only die once :)

You have more chance of being stabbed or raped than poisoned . At the risk of escalation , if such a small amount can cause this much panic. I would hate to see what a 25 litre pail of that stuff would do. 25 litres could be a real crowd pleaser.

You have more chance dying from boredom than being poisoned ,so do not stop living just because a potential serial killer may have something probably made from an internet recipe . The chances of getting killed from this nasty stuff is way less than being killed driving a Moped with a fat girl on the back or attempting to purchase herbal products from a cafe in the St.Pauls area while wearing short hair and a met police uniform 👮

What ever happened to those nice self oxidizing chemical weapons approved by the Geneva Conventions ? No internet recipe's on the dark web ?

Pontius Navigator
8th Jul 2018, 06:57
fitlicker, calming words I am sure as I sit in my garden, listening to the birds, drinking my morning tea. But then I am not in Salisbury.

VP959
8th Jul 2018, 07:15
To my mind, that means the system and the government were to a large degree culpable.

I wouldn't disagree with that at all, all I would add was that, in the main (prior to him being called before the House of Commons Select committee) the sins were all of incompetence and omission. His HR management, in particular, was a mess - he didn't even know for sure who was managing him at one point, as people just couldn't be bothered to do their jobs properly, IMHO (bear in mind that I'm biased here - I was managed by the same HR people, or rather not managed by them).

Krystal n chips
8th Jul 2018, 16:37
I'm going on published information, some of it old, some of it new, including that from the independent OPCW labs that collected samples from the Skripal attack and analysed them in their own facilities. I've never claimed any information came from my formers employers or former colleagues. I can state categorically that none did, and that I have not spoken to any one of them about this affair.





I.

That's intriguing to learn, because, in # 127. you state......

I've had some interesting snippets of info on possible agents. Rumour locally has it that VX, sarin and tabun have been ruled out, soman seems unlikely, and that VG or one of the less toxic novichok agents may be in the frame.

The above alludes to you having information not generally in the public domain and rather specialist information at that.

As with other questions posed however, doubtless there will be a deafening silence .....which speaks volumes in itself........as to the sources of these "snippets of into " .

There again, it's essential to maintain an image of credibility here on JB.

WingNut60
8th Jul 2018, 17:05
.........There again, it's essential to maintain an image of credibility here on JB.
Really? When did that start?

BehindBlueEyes
8th Jul 2018, 20:54
Sad news just breaking - will put a whole new slant on the episode.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44760875

VP959
8th Jul 2018, 21:07
Very sad indeed, and implies she had a greater dose than anyone else.

Not sure about the murder charge claim though. If someone dumps something dangerous, with the reasonable expectation that it may not be found, and it is then found and causes a death, does that mean that a murder has been committed?

I'm no lawyer, but I thought that one of the criteria for a charge of murder was intent to kill, in Latin, Mens Rea, a guilty mind. Manslaughter I can understand; it was grossly negligent to discard something that could easily cause the death of several people. Sad as it is, I'm not at all convinced that the attacker that discarded this materiel intended to kill anyone other than his/her targets.

Pontius Navigator
8th Jul 2018, 21:17
VP, you may be correct but that is for the CPS to determine based on the evidence. As far as the police are concerned they must investigate the greater crime.

I read your hypothesis. How about they were complicit in the original attack? How about one of the original attackers had reason to silence witnesses?

Possibilities are limitless and not improbable.
​​​

currawong
8th Jul 2018, 21:22
"implies she had a greater dose than anyone else" (?)

Or was more susceptible, due to a number of factors, such as body weight, route of entry or pre-existing conditions that do not loan themselves to a severe poisoning event.

Very sad news.

VP959
9th Jul 2018, 10:07
VP, you may be correct but that is for the CPS to determine based on the evidence. As far as the police are concerned they must investigate the greater crime.

I read your hypothesis. How about they were complicit in the original attack? How about one of the original attackers had reason to silence witnesses?

Possibilities are limitless and not improbable.
​​​

Just as valid a hypothesis, I agree. I'm still inclined to go for the simple option, though, that the attacker(s) discarded something whilst making their escape and this couple picked it up and handled it.

"implies she had a greater dose than anyone else" (?)

Or was more susceptible, due to a number of factors, such as body weight, route of entry or pre-existing conditions that do not loan themselves to a severe poisoning event.

Very sad news.

Just as probable, perhaps more so, given what has been hinted at at about her past she may well have been more susceptible.

I wonder if we will ever find out what really happened, or whether this will remain a sad tale where we know a fair bit of what happened but not who committed the attack, or why.

clareprop
9th Jul 2018, 16:17
whether this will remain a sad tale where we know a fair bit of what happened but not who committed the attack, or why.

I hope not. There must be hundreds of cameras in the vicinity and one presumes the team are using every technology available to match movements. I feel it's a matter of time before they get a result...whether they can do anything about it is another matter.

Flash2001
9th Jul 2018, 16:52
CNN Crawl sez that "Scotland Yard hasn't determined the source of the poison" ??

I thought that scientists at Porton Down had identified it for sure or is this just goldfish memory on CNN's part?

After an excellent landing etc...

VP959
9th Jul 2018, 17:18
CNN Crawl sez that "Scotland Yard hasn't determined the source of the poison" ??

I thought that scientists at Porton Down had identified it for sure or is this just goldfish memory on CNN's part?

After an excellent landing etc...

Two issues here, perhaps three.

The initial agent used against the Skripals was positively identified, by several OPCW accredited labs, using their own samples, as being A234, specifically a batch made by the Soviet Union in the 1980's. There is very little room for error in that assessment, given the weight of independently collected and analysed evidence.

The agent used against the latest two victims has been identified positively by one OPCW accredited lab as being A234, most probably from the same batch as used against the Skripals. I say most probably, because as far as I know samples from this latest attack have not been independently collected and analysed by other OPCW accredited labs, so although Porton Down might be sure, we really need other labs to check to confirm that this is from the same batch.

The media are generalising to the point of confusion. They seem incapable of being precise, when precision is needed in a case as sensitive as this. In particular, they have mixed up the reporting of the analysis of the agent found on the latest victims. It is A234, of that there is no doubt, and Porton Down believe it to be from the same batch that was used against the Skripals. However, Porton Down are being rightly cautious and saying that the agent is "of the same type as used in the Skripal attack", because until there is independent verification they cannot be more precise, even if they are dead certain it's from the same batch.

It's the usual problem of the media not being able to comprehend caveats given by scientists on their results, I think.

Stan Woolley
9th Jul 2018, 17:49
George Galloway talks to various people about ‘Novichok 2’. Just after 30mins he talks (again) to an American Chemistry Professor who casts doubt on...well...loads of stuff. (He talks to Craig Murray before the Prof.)

https://youtu.be/IcZSYWlp8ro

Flash2001
9th Jul 2018, 18:05
Confirming once more my suspicion that math and science scores of <10% are prerequisite to admission to journalism school.

After an excellent landing etc...

VP959
9th Jul 2018, 18:20
George Galloway talks to various people about ‘Novichok 2’. Just after 30mins he talks (again) to an American Chemistry Professor who casts doubt on...well...loads of stuff. (He talks to Craig Murray before the Prof.)

https://youtu.be/IcZSYWlp8ro


There are over 100 compounds that were developed within the overall novichok (newcomer) programme (or foliant if you prefer the NATO codename).

They vary wildly in their properties, from some that were nothing more than normal pesticides, though combinations of seemingly harmless compounds, that when mixed just prior to deployment could form an effective chemical weapon, through to a few compounds that were developed, almost accidentally, and were never turned into practical chemical weapons.

Unless reporting is precise, and refers very specifically to the chemical agent concerned, then we have no way of knowing its effects, toxicity, ease of deployment as a weapon, etc.

It's fair to say that A234 was an agent that hadn't been investigated very thoroughly. The reasons are only really known to the Soviet Union team that worked on them, but we can speculate, based on public domain knowledge of similar agents. A234 seems similar to VX, but from what we now know, it has a very much slower rate of absorption through the skin, or at least seems to, based on the small number of victim samples that we know of. We know that it, like VX, is oily, probably slightly hydrophobic and extremely persistent in a normal environment.

The closest analogue to A234 is A232, or Novichok -5. This is a different agent to Novichok -2. There are significant differences between A232 (Novichok -5) and A234, it seems, not the least being that A234 was, unlike A232, not weaponised.

Galloway is far from being stupid, it's just a great shame that he doesn't put his intelligence to a more constructive use. It would be a great help if he took the time to study the public domain information about the whole novichok/foliant programme, and read through the independent inspection reports that were produced shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union.

TEEEJ
9th Jul 2018, 21:20
CNN Crawl sez that "Scotland Yard hasn't determined the source of the poison" ??

I thought that scientists at Porton Down had identified it for sure or is this just goldfish memory on CNN's part?

After an excellent landing etc...

They are referring to the source of the contamination.

Contaminated item not yet located
Police believe Sturgess and Crowley were exposed to the nerve agent Novichok after handling a contaminated item. Both were admitted to Salisbury District Hospital nine days ago after falling ill, the same hospital where the Skripals were treated.

"Our focus and priority at this time is to identify and locate any container that we believe may be the source of the contamination," said assistant commissioner Basu Monday.

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/07/08/uk/uk-woman-dies-after-being-exposed-to-soviet-era-nerve-agent-authorities-say/index.html

layman
9th Jul 2018, 22:08
A digression from the topic at hand

from Flash2001

"Confirming once more my suspicion that maths and science scores of <10% are prerequisite to admission to journalism school"

In a similar, but opposite, vein, at the university where I taught, we dropped communications classes from our computer & software engineering courses because too many students failed them.

They could count; they couldn't write

KelvinD
9th Jul 2018, 22:21
VP959: George Galloway can be at times brilliant and bloody annoying. However, your comment indicates you haven't actually listened to the whole of the youtube clip.
The chemistry professor was interesting, telling how he set his chemistry students a test; to come up with a Novichok model. They all managed to show how it can be synthesised using 3 readily available chemicals. Among other things, he stated the common weed killer Roundup is very similar to Novichok.

WingNut60
9th Jul 2018, 23:21
.....In a similar, but opposite, vein, at the university I taught at, .......

Not English grammar then?

Ex Cargo Clown
10th Jul 2018, 01:30
VP959: George Galloway can be at times brilliant and bloody annoying. However, your comment indicates you haven't actually listened to the whole of the youtube clip.
The chemistry professor was interesting, telling how he set his chemistry students a test; to come up with a Novichok model. They all managed to show how it can be synthesised using 3 readily available chemicals. Among other things, he stated the common weed killer Roundup is very similar to Novichok.
Let's not go there, chemistry students are under enough scrutiny. You could make it easily in the lab, but you'd be crazy to do so.

currawong
10th Jul 2018, 04:17
"Among other things, he stated the common weed killer Roundup is very similar to Novichok".

And with that sentence he showed just how ignorant he really is.

KelvinD
10th Jul 2018, 06:45
currawong:
And with that sentence he showed just how ignorant he really is.
His actual words were "If you look at the chemical structure of the Novichoks and put them side by side with the weedkiller Roundup you will see remarkable similarities".
Those words come from a man responsible for teaching chemistry at Cornell University.
How do your chemistry qualifications stack up against his?

Pontius Navigator
10th Jul 2018, 06:57
For my 6th form project at school I made a selective weed killer. Killed everything. The recipe book had failed to mention dilution rates. Probably why, 60 years on, garden centre sell water to the public afraid to mix their own.

G-CPTN
10th Jul 2018, 07:38
I use Roundup in its concentrated industrial strength form - undiluted - for stem-injection of Japanese knotweed.
We are told that it is safe to drink.
Roundup is used extensively in agriculture as a desiccant to end the vegetation lifecycle of cultivated crops such as wheat, oats, barley, edible beans and oil-seed rape immediately before harvesting.

VP959
10th Jul 2018, 07:39
currawong:

His actual words were "If you look at the chemical structure of the Novichoks and put them side by side with the weedkiller Roundup you will see remarkable similarities".
Those words come from a man responsible for teaching chemistry at Cornell University.
How do your chemistry qualifications stack up against his?

What a bloody fool, not to know that the chemistry of the HERBICIDE glyphosate (a.k.a. Roundup, Gallup 360 etc) is radically different to that of the organophosphate PESTICIDE compounds that form the basis for many nerve agents, including most of those in the 100 or so novichok/foliant series.

The mechanism of action is radically different between the two compounds. Glyphosate inhibits the production the amino acids phenylalanine, tryptophan and tyrosine in plants ONLY and is relatively harmless to humans (massive doses and prolonged exposure are required to cause harm to humans and the estimated LD50 is around 5g/kg body mass to 10g/kg body mass, so a does that may kill a human weighing around 80kg could be around 400g to 800g, ingested.

A234 acts by inhibiting the production of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, that normally instantly breaks down acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter used to conduct nerve impulses between one neuron and the next in line in animals. Assuming A234 is around the toxicity stated by some who worked on the programme, then it has an estimated LD50 for skin contact (not ingestion) of somewhere around 1mg to 3mg for an 80kg human. In other words, the human toxicity of A234 by skin contact is at least 200,000 times greater than that for the ingestion of glyphosate.

currawong
10th Jul 2018, 07:44
"If you look at the chemical structure of the Novichoks and put them side by side with the weedkiller Roundup you will see remarkable similarities".

If you look at a photo of your pet cat next to a photo of a tiger you will see remarkable similarities.

whale1776
10th Jul 2018, 07:47
currawong:

His actual words were "If you look at the chemical structure of the Novichoks and put them side by side with the weedkiller Roundup you will see remarkable similarities".
Those words come from a man responsible for teaching chemistry at Cornell University.
How do your chemistry qualifications stack up against his?
There may well be similarities but it is the differences that are the key. Humans and chimps have many similarities on a chemical level but the differences are what makes us capable of putting a chimp in space. The man is a nob just trying to get publicity and you are still desperately making excuses for Russia.

atakacs
10th Jul 2018, 08:41
VP - without going into what might be classified material could you shed some light how the "fingerprinting" is done ?
I'm not quite sure how you can differentiate two chemically identical molecules - so I'd guess it is about other contaminants / secondary chemicals that are part of the "cocktail" and whose relative proportions - however minute - can help pinpoint a specific production batch ?
Irrespective of the details that you might or might not want to share how reliable is this technique ? Can it be fooled ?

VP959
10th Jul 2018, 08:53
VP959: George Galloway can be at times brilliant and bloody annoying. However, your comment indicates you haven't actually listened to the whole of the youtube clip.

I did, and it's why I made the comment I did.

The chemistry professor was interesting, telling how he set his chemistry students a test; to come up with a Novichok model. They all managed to show how it can be synthesised using 3 readily available chemicals.

Yes and no. Yes crude A234 can be synthesised reasonably easily. No, not all the precursor chemicals are "readily available " (at least one is restricted and needs a commercial licence to procure), no, A234 cannot be purified from the precursor at all easily, and the process is pretty hazardous. A well-equipped lab would be needed together with someone with extensive experience of this specific branch of organic chemistry (my first qualification was in organic chemistry, and I can understand how to do it, but there is no way that I have either the lab skills or the specific expertise to attempt it).

Among other things, he stated the common weed killer Roundup is very similar to Novichok.

Which is, frankly, a load of bollocks.
These are the two postulated structures for the organophosphate known as A234, first that from Mirzayanov (which may well be in error):

https://cimg5.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.gmforum.com-vbulletin/220x117/220px_a_234_mirzayanov_c4b5bc28e65e7e535576e592e837d3477d515 a06.png
and this structure from Hoenig, that I think may be closer to the true structure of the agent:

https://cimg2.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.gmforum.com-vbulletin/220x125/220px_a_234_hoenig_69e51b7ca64d7f4756211c18c82704b4f97b8a49. png



And this is the structure of glyphosate (Roundup, Gallup 360 etc) also taken from Wikipedia:

https://cimg0.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.gmforum.com-vbulletin/220x88/220px_glyphosate_svg_53c59102f16bf0f252577cc8c67678498a5a6bf 6.png


Apart from all being organic compounds, they bear little similarity to each other.

VP959
10th Jul 2018, 08:59
VP - without going into what might be classified material could you shed some light how the "fingerprinting" is done ?
I'm not quite sure how you can differentiate two chemically identical molecules - so I'd guess it is about other contaminants / secondary chemicals that are part of the "cocktail" and whose relative proportions - however minute - can help pinpoint a specific production batch ?
Irrespective of the details that you might or might not want to share how reliable is this technique ? Can it be fooled ?

The "fingerprinting" is essentially the same process used to forensically identify trace compounds in crimes, for example the exact batch of petrol used to start a fire in an arson attack. Every compound will contain impurities that relate specifically to the way it was synthesised and purified - no two batches will be absolutely identical in general, and especially so with the purification of organophosphates from their crude base compounds.

The process is to analyse the sample using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. This will give the exact signature of the compound, and show the proportion of each and every trace impurity. Comparing the ratios of the trace impurities between samples is a near-100% way to determine if they came from the same batch.

It would be exceptionally difficult to spoof this, as those impurities are a part of the compound, that got there during synthesis or purification, and can't easily be added afterwards, as doing so would not give the same signature.

currawong
10th Jul 2018, 09:45
To be fair, Roundup/glyphosate is a member of the organophosphate family.

But optimised to inhibit photosynthesis in plants. Not really dangerous to humans.

Other organophosphates are optimised to target invertebrates. Pretty dangerous to humans.

Other organophosphates are optimised to target vertebrates. Extremely dangerous to humans.

If you are a journo looking for ratings or a sheep, you may not notice the distinction.

VP959
10th Jul 2018, 10:05
If you are a journo looking for ratings or a sheep, you may not notice the distinction.

That, I think, sums up perfectly what so many journos are doing. I find it a bit sad that there are some people who are being referred to as experts, or at least competent in this particular area of organic chemistry, that are spouting forth to support some of these bits of reporting. I may have learned a bit of chemistry around 47 years ago, but I'm far from being an expert and yet it's not hard to spot obvious flaws in some points being made in the media. I'm just curious enough to have taken the time to look though as much data as I can find in the public domain, weigh it as to what I think it's validity might be, and try to draw conclusions from it that fit what we think we know. As my late mother, and my wife, says, my insatiable curiosity will get me into serious trouble one day. It annoys the hell out of my wife, who just cannot understand why I have to try and find the reason for things happening, or how things work. I'm sure it's as irritating as hell to others, too, but I've been like it since a small boy so I doubt I'm going to change now.

currawong
10th Jul 2018, 10:12
It is your civic duty to annoy the hell out of your wife:}

G-CPTN
10th Jul 2018, 12:02
It is your civic duty to annoy the hell out of your wife:}
When we were breaking up, my wife (now ex) gave as a reason that I was 'always right'.
On further discussion, she meant simply that - not that I claimed to be always right (I didn't) but that I was always right . . .

My methodology was never to argue, just let things progress until the realisation as to who was right.

Pontius Navigator
10th Jul 2018, 17:13
G-CPTN, lucky you, I am always wrong even when I am right.

This morning, and don't ask me why, she decides to use the new bathroom when our own is bigger and better. Picks up shampoo bottle, top falls off and 3/4 pours in to bath.

Don't ask me how that much poured out.

Naturally it was my fault as I had used the bathroom a couple of weeks back testing the new bathroom fan. Pointed out grandson had used the bathroom last week. YOU CAN'T BLAME HOM, HE IS ONLY A CHILD. OK I said, as it wasn't me and it wasn't him, it must have been you .
They just don't understand fact, logic and reason.

VP959
10th Jul 2018, 17:45
G-CPTN, lucky you, I am always wrong even when I am right.

This morning, and don't ask me why, she decides to use the new bathroom when our own is bigger and better. Picks up shampoo bottle, top falls off and 3/4 pours in to bath.

Don't ask me how that much poured out.

Naturally it was my fault as I had used the bathroom a couple of weeks back testing the new bathroom fan. Pointed out grandson had used the bathroom last week. YOU CAN'T BLAME HOM, HE IS ONLY A CHILD. OK I said, as it wasn't me and it wasn't him, it must have been you .
They just don't understand fact, logic and reason.

We're selling our old house, and I'm busy tarting it up a bit, to make it look a bit more presentable. Today I had 7 tonnes of 20mm gravel delivered and spent the best part of the day spreading it across our tired old muddy drive, so it now looks a lot more presentable.

Wife comes home from work and I rush out to greet her, expecting a compliment for the nice and tidy new drive we now have. Instead she gets out of the car and says "It's a bit crunchy, isn't it?"

I refrained from saying "Of course it's f'ing crunchy, it's bloody gravel, what did you expect?...", but I was sorely tempted.

Flash2001
10th Jul 2018, 18:22
That was the BEST part of the day?? Strewth!

After an excellent landing etc...

TEEEJ
10th Jul 2018, 18:55
A man who was exposed to the nerve agent Novichok has regained consciousness after a "small but significant improvement", Salisbury District Hospital has said.

Charlie Rowley, who has been in hospital since falling ill in Amesbury on 30 June, is in a critical but stable condition.

But the 45-year-old "is still very unwell", a statement said.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44779499

WingNut60
10th Jul 2018, 19:17
Strewth!


First time I've heard of a Texan using that word!

G-CPTN
10th Jul 2018, 19:43
A man who was exposed to the nerve agent Novichok has regained consciousness after a "small but significant improvement", Salisbury District Hospital has said.
Charlie Rowley, who has been in hospital since falling ill in Amesbury on 30 June, is in a critical but stable condition.
But the 45-year-old "is still very unwell", a statement said.
Let us hope that he recovers sufficiently to solve the 'what, and where'.

chevvron
11th Jul 2018, 02:06
Let us hope that he recovers sufficiently to solve the 'what, and where'.
She was living in a 'hostel' implying she was hard up.
If they sat in QE Park in Salisbury and she happened to notice a a perfume spray in the grass, maybe labelled 'Chanel' or 'Dior', she's going to pick it up and spray a bit on herself to see what it's like isn't she.
She then snogs him and anything on her face is going to be transferred.
The above is purely my own theory, but the spray could also have been used on the Skripal's doorknob then be thrown away where she found it..
Posted 11 Jul.
Was I right?

VP959
11th Jul 2018, 06:24
She was living in a 'hostel' implying she was hard up.
If they sat in QE Park in Salisbury and she happened to notice a a perfume spray in the grass, maybe labelled 'Chanel' or 'Dior', she's going to pick it up and spray a bit on herself to see what it's like isn't she.
She then snogs him and anything on her face is going to be transferred.
The above is purely my own theory, but the spray could also have been used on the Skripal's doorknob then be thrown away where she found it..

The hostel in question is "supported accommodation" not usually used by the homeless AFAIK, but is one used by recovering addicts, I believe. The original police theory was that the couple had overdosed on heroin or crack cocaine, and I would guess that that assumption may have been made from background knowledge they had.

My own view is that they may well have found and picked up a used syringe when out walking somewhere that day, possibly Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury, as that fits with a possible escape route on foot from the Sergei Skripal's house to the roads leading out of the city to the South West (and they would be a better route out for several reasons, less congestion, less CCTV etc).

The police have confirmed that the agent was found on their hands.

TEEEJ
11th Jul 2018, 07:25
My own view is that they may well have found and picked up a used syringe when out walking somewhere that day, possibly Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury, as that fits with a possible escape route on foot from the Sergei Skripal's house to the roads leading out of the city to the South West (and they would be a better route out for several reasons, less congestion, less CCTV etc).

VP, Could the River Avon be the possible infil and exfil route? I was struck by the proximity of the river next to the Queen Elizabeth Gardens and where it leads to the North and Northwest. The network of pathways leads up to the allotments and a short distance to the Sergei Skripal's house. (Marked on map 47 Christie Miller Road). The perpetrator(s) exfil via the same river route and dump/hide the container in Queen Elizabeth Garden/River area. From there the exfil route across the fields and out to wooded area next to River Nadder and further fields.

Map link showing Skripal house and allotment/river area.

https://goo.gl/maps/DAEnznPeYAr

Overview map link.

https://goo.gl/maps/SJcuxydi3nt

VP959
11th Jul 2018, 08:53
VP, Could the River Avon be the possible infil and exfil route? I was struck by the proximity of the river next to the Queen Elizabeth Gardens and where it leads to the North and Northwest. The network of pathways leads up to the allotments and a short distance to the Sergei Skripal's house. (Marked on map 47 Christie Miller Road). The perpetrator(s) exfil via the same river route and dump/hide the container in Queen Elizabeth Garden/River area. From there the exfil route across the fields and out to wooded area next to River Nadder and further fields.

Map link showing Skripal house and allotment/river area.

https://goo.gl/maps/DAEnznPeYAr

Overview map link.

https://goo.gl/maps/SJcuxydi3nt

Salisbury is a PITA to drive in and out of, especially at weekends, and especially along the A36, which forms a partial ring road and get's clogged solid at peak times, especially on Southampton road and on the roads coming in from the West and North.

A car parked up near Sergei Skripal's house may well have attracted attention, as it's a location that, in my view, would be best approached by foot, perhaps by someone pretending to deliver leaflets or similar. Getting away from that area on foot it would be easy to use the good footpath routes across the city and head South West. You can walk across the water meadows to Harnham on a very good path, and an extra parked car in any of the roads around Harnham would be very unlikely to attract any attention. Also, driving away from Salisbury from that direction, heading out on either the A354 or the A338, would be relatively safe. There are cameras on both roads but I'm pretty sure almost all of them can be avoided by heading into the lanes across the New Forest. If I wanted to get out of Salisbury by the least conspicuous route that's the way I'd go, living locally and knowing where a lot of the cameras are. In particular I'd stay well away from the A36, as that has cameras all over the place.

Pontius Navigator
11th Jul 2018, 09:03
VP, it could be argued that leaving via a moving traffic jam is the better way.

VP959
11th Jul 2018, 09:46
VP, it could be argued that leaving via a moving traffic jam is the better way.

It could, but there are lots of cameras on that route, so the risk of being caught on camera when moving slowly would be high. It's really just the camera density that leads me to suspect that a footpath route cross the city would make sense.

If you walk from Sergie Skripal's house roughly South, cross the A36 and walk under the tunnel to Churchfields, you can then walk down to the gardens via Mill Road. There is a very good footpath from Elizabeth gardens straight across to Harnham, that comes out by the mill, in a residential area where there's a lot of on street parking. Lots of people walk and cycle across there (including me) and it would make an ideal way to get out of the city to the South West without encountering any of the city centre CCTV or any of the CCTV on the A36 (there's no CCTV, AFAIK, on the dog leg crossing from Highbury Avenue to Ashfield Road and under the tunnel to Churchfields, as long as you cross the A36 before the court building).

VP959
11th Jul 2018, 09:55
If you want more media guff about the longevity of A234, then it seems that at last the BBC seem to be reporting accurately as to how long it may hang around. Makes a change from all the crap that's been spouted about the stuff washing off in the rain, etc: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44791374

BehindBlueEyes
11th Jul 2018, 12:06
It will be very interesting and revealing where and how the couple came across the nerve agent. No doubt it will be one of the first questions Charlie Rowley will be asked, now he’s conscious.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44791374

Sallyann1234
11th Jul 2018, 12:10
Why didn't the attacker just chuck the container in the river?

G-CPTN
11th Jul 2018, 16:52
Why didn't the attacker just chuck the container in the river?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

TEEEJ
11th Jul 2018, 22:07
Thanks for the detailed reply, VP. :ok:

currawong
12th Jul 2018, 04:09
If there is no random container containing residual nerve agent, discarded in a park, that two people happened upon, and somehow got on themselves:hmm:

Then we could be looking at quite a different beast.

Said container, if it exists, would be quite the curio at this point in time.

Octane
12th Jul 2018, 04:15
Whatever the object is, it won't have the villain's fingerprints on it!

Pontius Navigator
12th Jul 2018, 06:35
Whatever the object is, it won't have the villain's fingerprints on it!
You never know, it might!

El Grifo
12th Jul 2018, 14:13
I posted some days ago about the unlikley
discarding of some container by a professional hit-man
I find it hard to believe !
El G.

TEEEJ
12th Jul 2018, 14:54
I posted some days ago about the unlikley
discarding of some container by a professional hit-man
I find it hard to believe !
El G.

Look at the mess that Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun made of the Alexander Litvinenko assassination. They only succeeded on the third attempt and left a trail on every occasion. There is always the possibility that the hit-man didn't know what he/she was carrying just like Lugovoi and Kovtun, but that doesn't stop people mucking up even if they are security service trained. These two bungling assassins were pouring their vials down the hotel room sinks, mopping it up with towels and apparently dumping a container in the hotel trash bin.

Lugovoi and Kovtun, it would become apparent, had no idea what they were carrying. Their behaviour in Britain was idiotic, verging on suicidal. Nobody in Moscow appears to have told them Po-210 had intensely radioactive properties. Or that it left a trace – placing them in specific locations and indicating, via telltale alpha-radiation markings, who sat where. It was possible to identify anything and everything these clueless assassins touched.

For unknown reasons, Lugovoi failed to deploy the latest vial of polonium. One possible explanation is that the Palm Court bar had video cameras, which Lugovoi would have seen. Or perhaps he suspected he was being watched. Did the British have him under surveillance? (The answer was no.) It’s possible he had got fresh orders from Moscow. Either way, Lugovoi decided to abort the operation.

This left him with a problem: what to do with the poison? Lugovoi’s solution was simple. In his hotel room, he tipped the polonium down the bathroom sink again, this time mopping it up with a couple of towels. He left the towels for the cleaner. And he appeared to have dumped the container in the white pedal bin next to the lavatory.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/06/alexander-litvinenko-and-the-most-radioactive-towel-in-history

El Grifo
12th Jul 2018, 15:14
Well well ! One learns something every day !
Appreciate the heads-up TEEJ.
Professionalism lacking across the board !

El G.

VP959
12th Jul 2018, 15:57
A police officer friend is fond of saying that most people would find it hard to believe how really incredibly stupid some criminals are. After over 20 years in the force he still comes up with fresh tales of idiocy by some of the local crooks.

racedo
12th Jul 2018, 16:43
I posted some days ago about the unlikley
discarding of some container by a professional hit-man
I find it hard to believe !
El G.

and it supposedly staying around in a public park for 4 months when cutting, cleaning, pruning has all been happening.

racedo
12th Jul 2018, 16:46
Look at the mess that Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun made of the Alexander Litvinenko assassination. They only succeeded on the third attempt and left a trail on every occasion. There is always the possibility that the hit-man didn't know what he/she was carrying just like Lugovoi and Kovtun, but that doesn't stop people mucking up even if they are security service trained. These two bungling assassins were pouring their vials down the hotel room sinks, mopping it up with towels and apparently dumping a container in the hotel trash bin.


Yet supposedly these were the best of the best well trained ex KGB assassins when in reality is they were 1 step above a US Mall Cop doing work for Russian Mafia with a bitch against an old acquaintance.

VP959
12th Jul 2018, 18:20
and it supposedly staying around in a public park for 4 months when cutting, cleaning, pruning has all been happening.

It's not exactly that sort of public park; in places it's just paths out across the water meadows, with a fair bit of litter around, especially either side of the main raised path across to Harnham.

KelvinD
12th Jul 2018, 18:34
What about the kids play area etc? I would imagine a fair bit of mowing etc has been done there over the last few months or the grass would be 6ft tall by now!

VP959
12th Jul 2018, 19:09
What about the kids play area etc? I would imagine a fair bit of mowing etc has been done there over the last few months or the grass would be 6ft tall by now!

Yes, that bits kept reasonably tidy, but there are a lot of areas away from the kids area in that park that aren't as well kept. Last time I rode the track over to Harnam from the park the drain trenches either side of the raised path were pretty much full of litter.

Pontius Navigator
12th Jul 2018, 20:20
Had the container been fpundr?
Has anyone confirmed where they got the poison?
Surely everything at the moment, apart from the fact of the contamination, is speculation.

currawong
13th Jul 2018, 02:45
It seems odd that given the passage of time and the "litter rich" environment the receptacle containing nerve agent would be singled out for attention by passer-by, opened and applied incidentally or otherwise.

Or put simply, who picks up rubbish and tips it on themselves? Not saying it couldn't / doesn't happen...

Maybe, for a moment, disregard the profile of the first two victims.

VP959
13th Jul 2018, 06:48
It seems odd that given the passage of time and the "litter rich" environment the receptacle containing nerve agent would be singled out for attention by passer-by, opened and applied incidentally or otherwise.

Or put simply, who picks up rubbish and tips it on themselves? Not saying it couldn't / doesn't happen...

Maybe, for a moment, disregard the profile of the first two victims.

My best guess, and it's only a guess, is that the container may have been a syringe.

My reason for thinking this is that a syringe is designed to keep the person using it away from the business end and allow controlled delivery of what was, in this case, a fairly oily, perhaps thickened, liquid.

Very few people are likely to touch a used syringe. It would be nice to think that it may have been collected by those cleaning up around the area, but the council budget for clearing litter has been slashed, following several years where the council voluntarily chose to keep council tax increases to 0% (loads of other stuff locally has suffered from this policy, too).

We know little about the background of the latest victim, other than she was living in supported accommodation quite close to Elizabeth gardens. I believe (but can't say I'm sure) that this supported accommodation is used by some recovering from addiction problems.

If the container was a discarded syringe, would someone who may have previously had a drug abuse problem be more or less inclined to pick it up than someone else? I don't know, but can postulate that someone recovering may well feel a strong desire to remove something that they would know was likely to be harmful especially to kids (and I believe she had kids) . Alternatively, someone recovering might see a used syringe as something useful, to be re-used.

Neither are very pleasant ideas, and are just postulation, but seem to fit with what little we know so far.

Pontius Navigator
13th Jul 2018, 06:58
Agree that a syringe would be a suitable vessel but not to the exclusion of other things. An aerosol is also a suitable container. Now the Russians would have known the types of possible containers but having been accused are unlikely to comment.

A syringe is only a transfer device. The transport device is more likely a sealed or self dealing container into which the syringe is inserted. For camouflage that container could have had an attractive or innocent label.

VP959
13th Jul 2018, 07:18
Given that there is a very high risk associated with transferring agent of this toxicity from one container to another, especially outside a lab environment, it wouldn't surprise me at all if the agent had been transported in the same container that was used to deploy it.

Fit a Luer-Lok cap to a needleless syringe and it makes a very good transport container. House the syringe in some form of outer container, like a tube with end caps, and you have something that would provide effective "double bagging" and be safe to carry around.

Getting it into the UK would be easy if going by sea. There are virtually no security checks of the sort we see at airports at the ferry ports.

BehindBlueEyes
13th Jul 2018, 10:52
I had a quick look but couldn’t see it mentioned before on here but a friend offered this conspiracy theory last night. Were these two unfortunate and vulnerable individuals from Amesbury offered money in exchange for doing the original deed and they have now inadvertently disturbed or reopened the container they were supplied with - hence the authorities interest in their accommodation? May a bit too far fetched but using substance dependent people as mules is a common practise.

Pontius Navigator
13th Jul 2018, 11:47
I had a quick look but couldn’t see it mentioned before on here but a friend offered this conspiracy theory last night. Were these two unfortunate and vulnerable individuals from Amesbury offered money in exchange for doing the original deed and they have now inadvertently disturbed or reopened the container they were supplied with - hence the authorities interest in their accommodation? May a bit too far fetched but using substance dependent people as mules is a common practise.
BBE, I had suggested there might have been a connection during or after the event, for instance they might have seen something.

VP959
13th Jul 2018, 12:06
Given how little we know, I'd guess anything is possible. Most of what we've discussing here, and what is being reported in the media, is conjecture.

We really have very little hard information other than the agent used was from a batch of novichok A234, manufactured in the former Soviet Union in the 1980s, and delivered via the door handle of the Skripals house in Salisbury for the initial attack in March. We know that the latest two victims had the same agent on their hands, indicating that they handled something containing it, or with it on. We know that this agent is a bit unusual, in that the period from skin contact to onset of symptoms is several hours, rather than seconds or minutes than might be more common for this generic class of toxins.

That's about it for stuff that we can be reasonably confident as being true, pretty much everything else is speculation.

Pontius Navigator
13th Jul 2018, 12:12
Which poses the dreadful question - just what is out there?

Stan Woolley
13th Jul 2018, 12:24
We really have very little hard information other than the agent used was from a batch of novichok A234, manufactured in the former Soviet Union in the 1980s, and delivered via the door handle of the Skripals house in Salisbury for the initial attack in March.

Show me where this fact has been proven. As far as I know, it hasn’t. The government used very careful language around this.

UK Experts Admit They Cannot Prove Russian Origins of Novichok Agent (http://truthinmedia.com/uk-experts-cannot-prove-russian-origins-novichok/)

Pontius Navigator
13th Jul 2018, 13:37
I see the Guardian has a positive on the container material in their article last week:

Sturgess handled the small container, made of glass, plastic or metal,

Well, now confirmed it was a container.

VP959
13th Jul 2018, 14:08
Show me where this fact has been proven. As far as I know, it hasn’t. The government used very careful language around this.

UK Experts Admit They Cannot Prove Russian Origins of Novichok Agent (http://truthinmedia.com/uk-experts-cannot-prove-russian-origins-novichok/)


You're linking to old news, I suspect from before the OPCW labs came and took independent samples, analysed them, compared them to the reference signatures held by all OPCW labs and confirmed that it was A234, manufactured to a high purity, originating from the former Soviet Union. It was from a batch that was almost certainly manufactured and purified at Shikhany some time in the 1980's, as the reference samples, from which the OPCW lab reference signatures were derived, were collected during international inspections carried out shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union. Here is evidence of the independent OPCW teams coming to the UK to investigate the agent used in Salisbury: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/investigators-from-chemical-weapons-watchdog-to-arrive-in-uk This link confirms the independent OPCW teams travelling to the UK to collect samples for analysis: https://www.opcw.org/news/article/opcw-issues-report-on-technical-assistance-requested-by-the-united-kingdom/

Some conspiracy theorists are using the absence of publication of classified information to justify some fairly ludicrous claims. The only unclassified official document on the independent sampling and analysis is this briefing paper, AFAIK: https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/S_series/2018/en/s-1612-2018_e_.pdf Combining the information in that paper, with statements from people who worked on the Novichok programme at the time, provides the link that the agent in question was A234.

The confirmation that the agent was A234 needs some detective work in order to obtain confirmation from reliable sources. I would start with this article from Chemistry World, that explains some of the background and the confusion around the precise chemical structure of A234: https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/russian-novichok-nerve-agent-linked-toattack-on-ex-spy/3008773.article

Sir Mark Sedwill did not give the name of the specific novichok agent in his letter to the Nato Secretary General, but makes some valid points about the independent confirmation of the specific agent by the independent OPCW labs: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/699819/Letter_from_the_UK_National_Security_Adviser_to_the_NATO_Sec retary_General_regarding_the_Salisbury_incident.pdf

It's also worth reading the briefing from the British Ambassador to Russia made on 13th April, as that confirms once more, the independent sampling and testing of this agent, and that the independent OPCW labs agreed completely with the analysis conducted on samples taken by DSTL Porton Down: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/british-ambassador-to-russia-briefing-on-the-salisbury-attack-following-the-opcw-report-13-april-2018

The UK Permanent Representative to the UN gave this speech, which confirms that the precise identity of the agent used had not then been made public, explaining once more that it had been independently identified by OPCW labs and was not, as claimed by the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the agent BZ (I think Lavrov just made that up to muddy the waters, as there were no traces of BZ found anywhere, as far as I'm aware): https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/russian-account-of-salisbury-is-a-re-write-of-orwells-1984

This paper from 1995 describes in detail the state of the former Soviet Union chemical weapons facilities, following an international inspection, and is worth reading as general, rather than specific, background, especially with regard to the apparent lack of control and security of the former Soviet facilities: https://web.archive.org/web/20150824060701if_/http://www.stimson.org:80/images/uploads/research-pdfs/Report17.pdf

Russia Today, published this news snippet that specifically refers to the USA having published the identity of the agent used in the attack as A234, and inadvertently, perhaps, confirms the former Soviet Union code number for this agent that is only contained (with respect to the Salisbury attack) in the classified version of the OPCW lab reports: https://www.rt.com/news/424597-russia-opcw-a234-novichok-convention/ They do recognise that it was one of the Russian scientists who worked at Shikhany, Vil Mirzayanov who mentioned A234, but it seems that Vil Mirzayanov was not "in the loop" as far as any official investigation was concerned, so must have obtained his knowledge of the agent used from somewhere else. Russia is "in the loop" and has a copy of the classified report that identified the agent as A234 from Shikhany. It is worth noting that the structure for A234 that Vil Mirzayanov published in his 1992 book may not be correct. Hoenig later produced a compendium of all the 100 or so novichok agents, and gives a slightly different structure for A234, but sadly this compendium is only available if you have access to a paywalled depository of scientific papers, AFAIK.

With regard to the validity of the identification of the agent as A234 from the former Soviet Union facility at Shikhany, then that comes down to the OPCW accredited labs only having a reference signature for the pure form of A234 from samples taken from Shikhany, when it was opened up for inspections following Russia joining the CWC in 1993. Although the official sources are not making the classified version of the OPCW report public, the fact that the agent used was A234 has now been leaked from so many places that there can be no real doubt that it was the agent used in the attack on the Skripals, and which poisoned Sgt Nick Bailey, as well as the two most recent victims. If the agent were not A234, then I am absolutely certain that we would be hearing a great deal more bluff and bluster about it being some other toxin, but the fact is that Russia has a copy of the OPCW classified report and is savvy enough to know that there is no merit in arguing with such solid evidence.

I'll repeat something I've said before, just to amplify what I think is an important point. If you've read the 1995 report from the Henry L Stimson Center, linked to above, it's clear that access to pretty much any former Soviet Union chemical warfare agent was not much of a challenge in the early 1990's. I think we would be wrong to assume that only a state actor could have access - we have seen how organised crime very quickly developed in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and how former state assets were used by some to create great personal wealth. We've also seen evidence of strong patriotism by the Russian people, and a fierce loyalty to one another. I personally think that it's quite likely that someone with a deep personal grudge against Sergei Skripal, because he betrayed his country, and countrymen, could have gone so far as to obtain A234 from Shikhany and mounted the Salisbury attack, most probably without the explicit sanction from either Vladimir Putin or the Russian government.

WingNut60
13th Jul 2018, 14:36
You're linking to old news, I suspect from before the OPCW labs came and took independent samples, analysed them, compared them to the reference signatures....., etc, etc

You are a very patient person, VP.
You do know that you're not going to convince them, don't you?

VP959
13th Jul 2018, 14:43
You are a very patient person, VP.
You do know that you're not going to convince them, don't you?

TBH, I'm not trying to convince any one; I'm just trying to work out what most probably happened, and figure out the possible reasons for it happening, using as much public domain information as I can lay my hands on. I have a healthy distrust of the media, and don't have much trust in government, but know enough about the way government works here to know that lying to respected international groups, like NATO or the OPCW is pretty unlikely - the repercussions diplomatically are just to great to take the risk. I do trust people I've worked with, because I know they always try to seek the truth, even if it's unpalatable to the government (as was the case with the late Dr David Kelly). That means I'm likely to put more weight on, for example, a statement from DSTL, than I am on a statement by the former Foreign Secretary.

Lascaille
13th Jul 2018, 15:29
The dancing around the topic with regard to the victim is quite painful. 'Vulnerable state'? Just say what you're thinking - she was an addict, she saw a loaded syringe and compulsively squirted the contents into herself on the spot. Is it possible? Sure. is it likely? Maybe if she was in really severe withdrawal, but that's not an activity that is usually combined with a stroll in the park.

Stan Woolley
13th Jul 2018, 15:38
“Some conspiracy theorists are using the absence of publication of classified information to justify some fairly ludicrous claims. The only unclassified official document on the independent sampling and analysis is this briefing paper, AFAIK: https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/...12-2018_e_.pdf (https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/S_series/2018/en/s-1612-2018_e_.pdf) Combining the information in that paper, with statements from people who worked on the Novichok programme at the time, provides the link that the agent in question was A234.

The confirmation that the agent was A234 needs some detective work in order to obtain confirmation from reliable sources. I would start with this article from Chemistry World, that explains some of the background and the confusion around the precise chemical structure of A234: https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/...008773.article (https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/russian-novichok-nerve-agent-linked-toattack-on-ex-spy/3008773.article)”

I can see now why you’ve written such a lengthy reply when all that would be required if your statement was definitely true would be a short statement to that effect by the OPCW. Why is the document classified and only available to ‘states parties’. If it was true, I have no doubt that it would be on every newspapers front page, by order of the government.

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

WingNut60
13th Jul 2018, 15:44
The dancing around the topic with regard to the victim is quite painful. 'Vulnerable state'? Just say what you're thinking - she was an addict, she saw a loaded syringe and compulsively squirted the contents into herself on the spot. Is it possible? Sure. is it likely? Maybe if she was in really severe withdrawal, but that's not an activity that is usually combined with a stroll in the park.

If you're talking about probability, then I find it improbable that the syringe was of a type fitted with a "sharp".
I have not heard anything authoritative to suggest that they actually injected anything.
Heavy, viscous liquid? You wouldn't be using a needle to spray that onto door knobs.

I don't know about UK but in Oz anyone can buy a syringe, but not with a sharp, unless you have a prescription; eg diabetics.

VP959
13th Jul 2018, 16:05
“Some conspiracy theorists are using the absence of publication of classified information to justify some fairly ludicrous claims. The only unclassified official document on the independent sampling and analysis is this briefing paper, AFAIK: https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/...12-2018_e_.pdf (https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/S_series/2018/en/s-1612-2018_e_.pdf) Combining the information in that paper, with statements from people who worked on the Novichok programme at the time, provides the link that the agent in question was A234.

The confirmation that the agent was A234 needs some detective work in order to obtain confirmation from reliable sources. I would start with this article from Chemistry World, that explains some of the background and the confusion around the precise chemical structure of A234: https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/...008773.article (https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/russian-novichok-nerve-agent-linked-toattack-on-ex-spy/3008773.article)”

I can see now why you’ve written such a lengthy reply when all that would be required if your statement was definitely true would be a short statement to that effect by the OPCW. Why is the document classified and only available to ‘states parties’. If it was true, I have no doubt that it would be on every newspapers front page, by order of the government.

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






The fact is that, for whatever reason, the OPCW have collectively chosen to make the full report of their analysis of the independently taken and analysed samples classified. I don't know why they have done this, but it is clear that every signatory state has been given a copy of the classified report (including Russia) and that at least one of them has leaked that the agent used was A234.

The information from Hoenig's compendium supports the view that it was A234, as do public statements and interviews from Vil Mirzayanov and Vladimir Uglev. I believe that you can use backdoor techniques to access Hoenig's Compendium but as a subscriber to Springer I'm not going to tell you how to get past their paywall as I suspect that such pirating of paid-for content is of dubious legality. Springer and Elsevier both have other papers on the subject that are worth reading, but they are behind a paywall (not something I agree with at all, but that seems to be the way of the world).

Vil Mirzayanov talks quite openly and has given interviews on the subject. How much credence you place on what he has to say, as a Russian, is up to you. frankly I find some of what he has said a bit questionaable, and suspect he's no fan of modern Russia and that biases some of what he says. Vladimir Uglev (who also worked at Shikhany) seems to be more credible, and I believe he was much more closely involved in the A232/A234 part of the novichok programme than Vil Mirzayanov . Here's an example of an interview he gave to the BBC to have a look at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trqUxpPzb3g

BehindBlueEyes
13th Jul 2018, 16:19
This would possibly support the mule theory:


https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44827666

And yes, ok, I think the poor woman that died was a drug addict which weakened her immune system and made her especially vulnerable to the nerve agent.

VP959
13th Jul 2018, 16:29
This would possibly support the mule theory:


https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44827666


It would indeed. It's hard to think why anyone would just pick up a discarded bottle and take it home. However, handling this stuff is very far from easy, and if they were just mules, used to deliver the agent to Sergei Skripal's door handle, how come they've only now been contaminated with the stuff?

Pouring the stuff out of a bottle out in the open would be bloody suicidal for whoever was doing it. The slightest trace of the stuff running down the outside of the bottle, getting on the lid or whatever, could be lethal.

This tale just gets curiouser and curiouser,

flash8
13th Jul 2018, 16:42
This tale just gets curiouser and curiouser

Indeed VP, one reason I believe its unlikely the UK is involved, too many loose ends to tie up and who knows where they may lead?

That Sajid Javid is "not jumping to any conclusions" to me seems a wind back of previous rhetoric implicating Russia (with absolutely no evidence naturally).. they know if it turns out it wasn't the Russians they will have a serious diplomatic crisis on their hands, far, far more than egg on their face.

And "Charlie" certainly will be able to explain quite a bit... lets just hope its not "I found the bottle in the park" explanation that quite frankly would be ludicrous.

VP959
13th Jul 2018, 16:56
It's hard to see how anyone in the UK, even the government, could have either a motive, or the bottle, to undertake an attack like this. It smacks to me of criminal activity, either criminals paid to undertake the job, or strongly motivated by a hatred of Sergei Skripal.

The complete disregard for safety has more than a little in common with the attack on Litvenenko, where the attackers clearly had no idea of what they were dealing with and endangered themselves and others by leaving a trail of Polonium every where they went.

Someone earlier suggested that someone without much money might be attracted to pick up something like a perfume bottle if it was an expensive brand, and someone even earlier in this thread suggested a small perfume bottle would be a reasonable way to smuggle the stuff in.

I wonder if the woman picked up a small perfume bottle, with what appeared to be some perfume still in it, and then tried a bit on her hand?

atakacs
13th Jul 2018, 17:06
With regard to the validity of the identification of the agent as A234 from the former Soviet Union facility at Shikhany, then that comes down to the OPCW accredited labs only having a reference signature for the pure form of A234 from samples taken from Shikhany, when it was opened up for inspections following Russia joining the CWC in 1993. Although the official sources are not making the classified version of the OPCW report public, the fact that the agent used was A234 has now been leaked from so many places that there can be no real doubt that it was the agent used in the attack on the Skripals, and which poisoned Sgt Nick Bailey, as well as the two most recent victims. If the agent were not A234, then I am absolutely certain that we would be hearing a great deal more bluff and bluster about it being some other toxin, but the fact is that Russia has a copy of the OPCW classified report and is savvy enough to know that there is no merit in arguing with such solid evidence.

I have little doubt about the A234 at this point. However I can't seem to find any official source about the positive fingerprinting. Would you be kind enough to link ?

BehindBlueEyes
13th Jul 2018, 17:15
It's hard to see how anyone in the UK, even the government, could have either a motive, or the bottle, to undertake an attack like this. It smacks to me of criminal activity, either criminals paid to undertake the job, or strongly motivated by a hatred of Sergei Skripal.

The complete disregard for safety has more than a little in common with the attack on Litvenenko, where the attackers clearly had no idea of what they were dealing with and endangered themselves and others by leaving a trail of Polonium every where they went.

Someone earlier suggested that someone without much money might be attracted to pick up something like a perfume bottle if it was an expensive brand, and someone even earlier in this thread suggested a small perfume bottle would be a reasonable way to smuggle the stuff in.

I wonder if the woman picked up a small perfume bottle, with what appeared to be some perfume still in it, and then tried a bit on her hand?

An interesting and credible theory - makes sense, I’m personally not buying the Putin is behind this theory, the Russians wouldn’t do anything as sloppy as this. If they wanted Skripal that badly, there are plenty of other more efficient ways to deal with him if they had got that close. This attack hadn’t got any guarantee of success as the result proved. I’m with you in that it’s more likely to be criminal activity or a disgruntled ex colleague with a personal agenda.

flash8
13th Jul 2018, 17:18
I wonder if the woman picked up a small perfume bottle, with what appeared to be some perfume still in it, and then tried a bit on her hand?

The biggest issue I have is that if you go to all the trouble (and perhaps hundreds of thousands of pounds) expense to mount this elaborate attack, and leave almost no trace (suspects yet to be identified) why would you throw the bottle away? Even an utter and complete fool would not do so and certainly not those that carried this attack out - it makes absolutely no sense.

Didn't they isolate it to the doorknob? Or has that been discounted?

As you said the mystery deepens.

the Russians wouldn’t do anything as sloppy as this.

Problem is the UK have backed themselves into a corner over this, it seems now they are trying to wiggle (Sajid's statement), but I suspect Russia will play this out to the end, not good for this government (at the very least) if things don't go as expected.

chevvron
13th Jul 2018, 17:31
She was living in a 'hostel' implying she was hard up.
If they sat in QE Park in Salisbury and she happened to notice a a perfume spray in the grass, maybe labelled 'Chanel' or 'Dior', she's going to pick it up and spray a bit on herself to see what it's like isn't she.
She then snogs him and anything on her face is going to be transferred.
The above is purely my own theory, but the spray could also have been used on the Skripal's doorknob then be thrown away where she found it..
Police have found 'a small bottle'.
Like I said, possibly a perfume atomiser?

VP959
13th Jul 2018, 17:51
I have little doubt about the A234 at this point. However I can't seem to find any official source about the positive fingerprinting. Would you be kind enough to link ?

Sorry, I can't find any easy-to-read links that relate specifically to this.

The principle of "fingerprinting" a specific sample is just one of performing a careful analysis, most probably of a very small sample, and comparing its signature (essentially the mass of every single constituent atom in the compound) with a reference. It used to be the case that a reference sample was needed for comparison, but now we can store the unique signature from any sample and use that to compare with a sample under test. There's a very comprehensive article on mass spectrometry on Wikipedia, but it may not be that easy to understand. In essence, the sample is ionised and then run through a system that can measure the mass of every atom that passes a sensor, often using something like a magnetic deflection technique, a bit like the way the beam in an old CRT TV was deflected by magnetic coils to scan across the screen to make a picture. In this case the mass measurement sensor is very sensitive and can measure and record the mass of each and every atom that passes through it. By separating out the elements of the sample before hand, using something like gas chromatography, the various atoms that make up the compound being analysed go through in sequence. This then allows a plot to be made showing how many atoms of every element there are in the sample. Because every sample will have impurities, the differences between the ratios of impurity atoms in one sample and another can work like a "fingerprint" and give two samples of a seemingly identical compound a different signature. The slightest change in the way a compound is synthesised or purified will result in a slight change in the mix of impurities, and this is essentially what's used to identify a particular batch, and ultimately a source, in some cases.

One common use for this technique is the detection of counterfeit medicines. It's pretty common for labs in loosely regulated countries to copy patented drugs and start producing them as cheaper copies. The drugs may well be the same, in terms of being the same compound and having the same effect, but the big drug companies don't take kindly to their products being made by someone else and sold more cheaply - there's a massive amount of money in it. They use exactly the same "fingerprinting" technique to compare seemingly identical counterfeit drugs with their own products. Because there will always be very small variations from batch to batch and from one manufacturing facility to another, it's pretty easy to use this technique to show that a counterfeit drug doesn't have a signature that matches any of their batches of the same drug.

We need an up to date chemist here who can try and explain the above better than I, without either telling the whole world how to make a nerve agent, or without breaching the copyright of journals that sit behind a paywall, exactly how forensic analysis is done in this day and age. My chemistry education ceased in 1972, and my only current knowledge is of seeing absolutely minute amounts of materiel being analysed, to demonstrate to me how a particular substance (not this one) had been positively identified and how it was possible to tell exactly where it had been made and when, right down to the batch number.

VP959
13th Jul 2018, 17:55
Police have found 'a small bottle'.
Like I said, possibly a perfume atomiser?

Sounds feasible to me, although from a practical perspective I think a dropper-type perfume bottle might be a heck of a lot safer for the attacker to have used (I'd hate to get even a few molecules of this stuff up my nose by accident). We'll just have to wait for the next episode to be revealed in this deepening mystery.

VP959
13th Jul 2018, 18:57
Just copied this from the latest BBC News report (my emphasis):

As a precaution members of the public are continuing to be urged to not to pick up items such as syringes, needles, cosmetics or similar objects made of materials such as metal, plastic or glass.

atakacs
13th Jul 2018, 19:02
Sorry, I can't find any easy-to-read links that relate specifically to this

Thanks - at least I don't feel (too) stupid.
Identifying A234 is one thing. Tying it to a specific batch produced 30 odd years ago is an altogether different story. Having it's presumed container bootle found in Charlie Rowley's Amesbury house, poisoning those two four months after the fact is just utterly bizarre.

419
13th Jul 2018, 19:07
The biggest issue I have is that if you go to all the trouble (and perhaps hundreds of thousands of pounds) expense to mount this elaborate attack, and leave almost no trace (suspects yet to be identified) why would you throw the bottle away? Even an utter and complete fool would not do so and certainly not those that carried this attack out - it makes absolutely no sense.
It makes perfect sense to me.
Apart from throwing the container away, what could the assassin do with it?
If it was shipped into the UK in personal baggage (as mentioned by VP959, possibly disguised as a perfume bottle), it probably had a hermetic seal which meant it was safe to transport but when this seal was broken to apply the agent on the door, the bottle could then have been extremely hazardous to anyone who came into contact with it so disposing of it quickly might have been the safest option for them.

A gun or a knife could easily have been kept for a while and disposed of at a later time and many miles away but an unsealed container holding an extremely dangerous chemical?

DaveReidUK
13th Jul 2018, 20:01
The biggest issue I have is that if you go to all the trouble (and perhaps hundreds of thousands of pounds) expense to mount this elaborate attack, and leave almost no trace (suspects yet to be identified) why would you throw the bottle away? Even an utter and complete fool would not do so and certainly not those that carried this attack out - it makes absolutely no sense.

Throwing it away as quickly as possible after use makes perfect sense.

Why would you expect a foreign agent (or indeed anyone) who has just carried out an assassination on UK soil to have any sympathies with the Keep Britain Tidy campaign ?

annakm
13th Jul 2018, 20:45
https://cimg8.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.gmforum.com-vbulletin/491x872/9aaa7b31_f8bf_485b_9ee9_c3146f749315_892cfb441ad94b9d7b998df 2c0307b747e93cb48.jpeg

BehindBlueEyes
13th Jul 2018, 21:06
A gun or a knife could easily have been kept for a while and disposed of at a later time and many miles away but an unsealed container holding an extremely dangerous chemical?

I guess a knife requires a direct confrontation with your intended victim; a gunshot runs the risk of being heard. A poison can be administered slightly more remotely although I would still say this particular method was sloppy. Applying it to a door handle seems a very inaccurate way of administering a toxin and, although the potential assassin probably wasn’t too bothered about any third parties, not a good way of ensuring the correct target.

TEEEJ
13th Jul 2018, 21:36
It seems odd that given the passage of time and the "litter rich" environment the receptacle containing nerve agent would be singled out for attention by passer-by, opened and applied incidentally or otherwise.

Or put simply, who picks up rubbish and tips it on themselves? Not saying it couldn't / doesn't happen...

Maybe, for a moment, disregard the profile of the first two victims.

A friend of Charlie Rowley described him as a scavenger.

Ben Jordan, a friend, described Rowley as a scavenger who would pick up cigarette butts from the ground and often go through the trash cans outside charity shops in search of something he could use or sell.

"Anything and everything to sell, to survive, to use," Jordan said. "What the charity shop doesn't want, he will fix it or sell it or use it for himself."

https://www.armstrongmywire.com/news/read/category/news/article/the_associated_press-uk_police_race_to_find_source_of_new_nerve_agent_p-ap

Sallyann1234
13th Jul 2018, 21:36
I doubt that the container would be a perfume bottle of any description.
We are told the victims became ill some time after exposure, and that the Novichok was found on their hands.
The strong temptation with a perfume bottle would be to smell it, which would surely be a much quicker and more powerful exposure.

currawong
14th Jul 2018, 04:36
Thankyou TEEEJ, that now makes more sense.

In my neighbourhood liquid in a discarded bottle is usually chateau truck driver.

grateful_pax
14th Jul 2018, 05:31
I doubt that the container would be a perfume bottle of any description.
We are told the victims became ill some time after exposure, and that the Novichok was found on their hands.
The strong temptation with a perfume bottle would be to smell it, which would surely be a much quicker and more powerful exposure.
Except one important thing. Novichok doesn't evaporate (well, i'm sure it does but to the very limited degree). The only option to "smell" it is to use an aerosol dispenser. Most probably the bottle didn't have one.
Indeed, if it would evaporate from skin, a victim would feel first symptoms much faster in case of skin exposure because of vapor inhalation but as we know that's not the case.
IMHO the woman died because she tried the "perfume" on her skin. Her partner most likely was contaminated by inadvertently touching poisonous spot on her hand. So he received relatively smaller dose and survived.

Effluent Man
14th Jul 2018, 06:52
Such scenarios certainly don't seem likely ones for state agencies. VP's theory of an individual with a grudge against the Skripals seems far more likely to hold the answer to this. I now feel even more strongly that those of us who counselled against accusing Putin are correct. The Russians are at most negligent in preventing this substance falling into the wrong hands.

VP959
14th Jul 2018, 07:03
I doubt that the container would be a perfume bottle of any description.
We are told the victims became ill some time after exposure, and that the Novichok was found on their hands.
The strong temptation with a perfume bottle would be to smell it, which would surely be a much quicker and more powerful exposure.

I tend to agree, but strongly suspect (from the nature of the stuff) that it doesn't vaporise easily and doesn't evaporate at all quickly, either. In some respects I think it behaves a bit like VX. That has no smell and if just sat as a liquid in a container won't release any appreciable vapour. Unless sprayed through a very fine atomiser, VX (and, I suspect, A234) won't naturally form fine droplets or change from liquid to vapour form.

As such, just smelling a dropper-type perfume bottle most probably wouldn't be that hazardous at room temperature. A234 doesn't boil until it gets to 258.1 deg C and has a enthalpy of vaporisation of 49.6 kJ/mol (+/- 3 kJ/mol). That implies that you need to put a fair bit of heat energy into it to get it to turn to vapour, and is most probably why it's so persistent when just left around outside - unlike something like Sarin, that behaves very like water, A234 is going to behave more like a heavy oil, that only evaporates extremely slowly at normal temperatures.

That's not to say that I'd volunteer to sniff the stuff, but in theory it may well not be lethal to do so.

Stan Woolley
15th Jul 2018, 09:14
Interview with Piers Robinson about Propaganda \ Persecution.

https://youtu.be/4Nj_3J4x14c

Haraka
15th Jul 2018, 18:23
VP959 Noting your comments on the sad demise of Dr.David Kelly, I have just read "An Unfortunate Death" by journo Miles Goslett.
Suffice to say that ploughing through this effort merely supported my inclination to agree with your informed opinion.
In attempting to seek ANY confirmable provenance for this rambling diatribe, I was struck by one of Goslett's allegations (in attacking Mrs. Kelly) being founded upon the assertion that the distance from Swindon to Mevagissey by road is 200 Miles.
So much for research!

KelvinD
15th Jul 2018, 18:47
How about 198.8 miles? How far off 200 miles is that?
It is interesting though that you and I have both read the book and yet come to opposite conclusions. (no criticism of you there).
I must re-read it as I am curious as to how anyone came to an official cause of death as suicide. I thought a coroner was the official who came to the conclusion of cause of death.

flash8
15th Jul 2018, 21:10
Behind a firewall but here is the summary:

The nerve agent that poisoned two people in Amesbury was contained in a perfume bottle, the brother of one of the victims has claimed.

Matthew Rowley said his brother Charlie, who remains seriously ill in Salisbury hospital, told him that he had picked up the perfume bottle.

The claim will raise the question of whether Dawn Sturgess, who died just over a week after being poisoned by the deadly nerve agent, sprayed the perfume on herself, effectively self-administering a lethal dose of Novichok.

Detectives are urgently working to establish how the perfume bottle came to be in the flat, and whether the Novichok it contains comes from the same batch used in the attack on the former Russian agent and his daughter, Yulia on March 4.


https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/15/novichok-poisoning-did-skripal-attackers-use-charlie-rowleys/

flash8
15th Jul 2018, 21:17
It makes perfect sense to me.
Apart from throwing the container away, what could the assassin do with it?


Throwing it away as quickly as possible after use makes perfect sense.

If you assume they had a plan.... then they would have had a plan for disposal. I still find it hard to believe they would discard a container (of whatever sort) without some precautions, possibly over-engineered. If I were a more suspicious type I could see this well fitting into some sort of government narrative despite my previous thoughts to the contrary. I will wait and see how this is spun and who is implicated.

KelvinD
15th Jul 2018, 23:01
Same story but no paywall:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44839805

Pontius Navigator
16th Jul 2018, 06:28
The claim will raise the question of whether Dawn Sturgess, who died just over a week after being poisoned by the deadly nerve agent, sprayed the perfume on herself, effectively self-administering a lethal dose of Novichok.Quote

A perfume bottle does not automatically equate with a spray or atomiser.

​​​​​​Eau de Parfum is diluted and will usually be a spray but Parfum is more like in a glass stopped bottle. If the Novichok is a heavier oil like liquid then a stopper is more likely though the risk of inadvertent contamination is greater. It could also account for a lesser contamination of the man.

VP959
16th Jul 2018, 07:07
So it seems the perfume bottle as the container and delivery method may well be the answer, and I agree with Pontius Navigator, it's unlikely to have been a spray bottle, especially as the agent was found on the hands of both the latest victims, and spraying this stuff would have been both hard (it's quite viscous, like oil) and bloody hazardous to the attacker(s).

As to why the attackers may have thrown it away, then we can only guess.

If they knew that the stuff was pretty hard to get rid of (essentially the easiest way is to put it and the container in a furnace at several hundred deg C for an hour or two) then just chucking the container away leaving no signs of who had handled it (presumably they used gloves which they have also disposed of somewhere) is the quick and easy way to get rid of it. There's no way anyone in their right mind would want to hang on to this stuff, it's far too lethal to just try and contain whilst leaving the scene - without two people it couldn't even be safely double bagged without a lot of hassle (anyone that has doffed potentially contaminated NBC kit will have an idea of the hassle).

An alternative view is that the attacker(s) just didn't know how persistent the agent is, and may have assumed that after a few days exposure to the elements it might break down.

Finally there's also the possibility that the attacker(s) really couldn't care less whether there were other casualties or not. This fits with the initial attack method - anyone could have touched Sergei Skripal's door handle, much as Sgt Nick Bailey did. Someone delivering the post, a neighbour calling around, a parcel delivery person, plus all the people that the Skripals met whilst they were contaminated and spreading the agent around Salisbury. There could have been dozens of casualties from the initial attack alone, let alone the two from just picking up the container.

My money is on the "couldn't care less" possibility. It fits with the indiscriminate nature of the initial attack, and also happens to fit with the way the attack on Litvenenko was carried out. In that case polonium was left everywhere the attackers went, and it was quite clear that they couldn't have cared less if other people were affected by the stuff, as long as they carried out their mission. The attack on the Skripals carries the same hallmark; the indiscriminate use of a toxin that could have killed dozens of innocent people along with the intended target, had the attackers better understood the toxicity of A234 and the very slow rate of uptake through the skin (and they wouldn't have known this, it wasn't ever tested properly, as they were concentrating on developing A232 / Novichok -5 into a viable binary weapon). Their chemical weapons programme came to an end with the collapse of the former Soviet Union, and none of the publicly available material from the international inspections seems to have any accurate details on toxicity in humans, or even that they undertook any real testing of A234, possibly because they may well have already suspected, perhaps from preliminary animal testing, that it had a pretty long time interval between skin contact and onset of symptoms, so as a weapon was not as well suited as the other agents they were also working on. It's worth remembering that this is bit of an obscure curiosity of an agent, one that never seemed to get further than being synthesised and purified for preliminary testing.

ORAC
18th Jul 2018, 10:26
Latest report is that traces of novichok were found on Dawn Sturgess wrists and face, suggesting she self-administered the agent believing the bottle contained perfume.

(the report actually said it seem she sprayed the agent - but it would seem more likely she daubed the agent on her wrists and behind her ears).

jolihokistix
18th Jul 2018, 11:37
Quite possibly then there was residual fragrance to it.

KelvinD
18th Jul 2018, 11:53
I think spraying, rather than daubing, is more likely. If the stuff was daubed behind the ears, how would there be traces on the face? Either way is irrelevant really, the unfortunate woman is still dead.

VP959
18th Jul 2018, 12:13
I think spraying, rather than daubing, is more likely. If the stuff was daubed behind the ears, how would there be traces on the face? Either way is irrelevant really, the unfortunate woman is still dead.

Not sure that it would spray at all given it's viscosity. Imagine putting something like clear engine oil in a perfume bottle, as that's a pretty close analogy to the properties of A234. It's not a thin liquid, like Sarin, for example, so I doubt it would atomise out of a normal pump-operated perfume spray.

A_Van
18th Jul 2018, 12:18
Just came across a (UK) publication that seems to summarize main inconsistencies in the version so aggressively spread by "mainstream" media and some populist-type politicians.
Part 1:
http://truepublica.org.uk/united-kingdom/craig-murray-illogical-inconsistent-and-shifting-government-narrative-over-events-in-salisbury-and-amesbury/ (http://truepublica.org.uk/united-kingdom/craig-murray-illogical-inconsistent-and-shifting-government-narrative-over-events-in-salisbury-and-amesbury/)

Part 2:
http://truepublica.org.uk/united-kingdom/craig-murray-the-holes-in-the-official-skripal-story/ (http://truepublica.org.uk/united-kingdom/craig-murray-the-holes-in-the-official-skripal-story/)

Just want to add that this substance (A-232 and -234 family) was in a possession of many countries since early 90's. The formula is well-known. E.g., the Germans got it, but preferred to experiment in Sweden.
Link to a German source:
https://www.dw.com/en/skripal-poisoning-germany-got-novichok-chemical-sample-from-russia-in-1990s/a-43818626 (https://www.dw.com/en/skripal-poisoning-germany-got-novichok-chemical-sample-from-russia-in-1990s/a-43818626)

Czeck president himself confessed his experts also had the stuff:
https://www.dw.com/en/skripal-poisoning-germany-got-novichok-chemical-sample-from-russia-in-1990s/a-43818626 (https://www.dw.com/en/skripal-poisoning-germany-got-novichok-chemical-sample-from-russia-in-1990s/a-43818626)

No need to say the US had it, too, and even got several patents (including methods to neutralize/alleviate it). The same for Porton Down: since they could identify it, this means they have samples and can produce it.

So, blaming Russia on attacking people in England just because this substance was found somewhere is the same as blaming Germany when anywhere in the world sarin is used (since they invented it).

Sallyann1234
18th Jul 2018, 12:47
It's going to be an interesting challenge to get forensic evidence off of that bottle.

VP959
18th Jul 2018, 12:48
Just came across a (UK) publication that seems to summarize main inconsistencies in the version so aggressively spread by "mainstream" media and some populist-type politicians.
Part 1:
http://truepublica.org.uk/united-kingdom/craig-murray-illogical-inconsistent-and-shifting-government-narrative-over-events-in-salisbury-and-amesbury/ (http://truepublica.org.uk/united-kingdom/craig-murray-illogical-inconsistent-and-shifting-government-narrative-over-events-in-salisbury-and-amesbury/)

Part 2:
http://truepublica.org.uk/united-kingdom/craig-murray-the-holes-in-the-official-skripal-story/ (http://truepublica.org.uk/united-kingdom/craig-murray-the-holes-in-the-official-skripal-story/)

Just want to add that this substance (A-232 and -234 family) was in a possession of many countries since early 90's. The formula is well-known. E.g., the Germans got it, but preferred to experiment in Sweden.
Link to a German source:
https://www.dw.com/en/skripal-poisoning-germany-got-novichok-chemical-sample-from-russia-in-1990s/a-43818626 (https://www.dw.com/en/skripal-poisoning-germany-got-novichok-chemical-sample-from-russia-in-1990s/a-43818626)

Czeck president himself confessed his experts also had the stuff:
https://www.dw.com/en/skripal-poisoning-germany-got-novichok-chemical-sample-from-russia-in-1990s/a-43818626 (https://www.dw.com/en/skripal-poisoning-germany-got-novichok-chemical-sample-from-russia-in-1990s/a-43818626)

No need to say the US had it, too, and even got several patents (including methods to neutralize/alleviate it). The same for Porton Down: since they could identify it, this means they have samples and can produce it.

So, blaming Russia on attacking people in England just because this substance was found somewhere is the same as blaming Germany when anywhere in the world sarin is used (since they invented it).

Worth reading back through this thread to clarify what has already been pointed out, both about the unique signature of this batch of A234 and about some of the links posted.

I think the myths being spread by the ill-informed, but very vocal, conspiracy theorists have been well and truly debunked, and the identity of the agent and the fact that it was from a specific batch manufactured in Shikhany in the early 1980's have been proven by the independent OPCW accredited labs. As stated several times here already, those labs obtained their own samples and conducted their own tests and all of them concluded that the signature of the agent matched the UK findings.

There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind as to what the agent was or where and when it was manufactured. Like others I do have doubts as to who was behind the attack, again as already stated earlier in this thread.

In my view the main failing of Russia as a state was it's inability to ensure the security and safety of the hundred or more chemical agents developed under the novichok programme. When independent inspectors went to look at the former Soviet Union facilities in the mid 1990's they were pretty horrified by the lack of security and the generally run down and unsafe nature of the facilities they looked at. Have a read of this report from 1995, as it makes it clear that pretty much anyone in Russia could have had access to this agent, and others: https://web.archive.org/web/20150824060701if_/http://www.stimson.org:80/images/uploads/research-pdfs/Report17.pdf

flash8
18th Jul 2018, 12:54
I have no faith in the Government to tell the truth, or anything closely related to it. In this instance too many loose ends are evident, from the disappearance of the Skripals down a wormhole never to be seen again through this incredulous container story, the relentless government spin without a shred of evidence (but much to the contrary). Also the alleged connection to the Trump dossier, bizarre.

It does raise a question though - what if they were both genuine poisonings but the second was instigated by somebody unconnected with the first for whatever reasons?

The second instigator may be trying to stir the pot.

VP959
18th Jul 2018, 13:03
It's going to be an interesting challenge to get forensic evidence off of that bottle.

One heck of a challenge, given that the whole bottle is almost certainly heavily contaminated by now.

Fingerprints were probably never going to be there anyway, as the attacker(s) had to have had the sense to wear gloves, just for their own protection, as it's almost certain that some agent made it's way onto the outside of the bottle when it was being used to coat the door handle at Sergei Skripal's house.

It'll be interesting to find out if the bottle was found inside a bag or other container. Thinking about the way I'd go about carrying out this attack, then I would definitely keep the bottle inside a sealed plastic bag right up until moments before deploying it. I'd be double gloved, as the agent may well be able to penetrate a single thickness of surgical glove, plus I'd need to doff the gloves without too much risk - double gloving allows the outer pair to be removed and turned inside out then the inner pair, with a relatively low risk of contamination. Very shortly before putting the agent on the door handle I'd cut open the outer bag and then quickly remove the stopper from the bottle and apply the agent to the handle.

I'd replace the stopper and put the bottle back in the bag, then walk away, holding the bag and bottle in a gloved hand, making sure it didn't contact my clothing. At the earliest safe opportunity I would discard the bag and bottle and then find somewhere to very carefully doff the gloves and dispose of them. As a precaution, I would almost certainly have a bottle of an appropriate acidic solution to wash my hands, plus a bottle of alkali solution to both neutralise the acid solution and wash way any residual broken down agent. I'd then rinse my hands well in water, maybe from the river close to where I suspect the bottle was found.

Somewhere there is bound to be one or two pairs of possibly contaminated gloves, probably not far from where the bottle was thrown. I've not heard of any gloves being found, but it seems inconceivable to me that any attacker(s) wouldn't wear gloves and dispose of them quickly afterwards.

VP959
18th Jul 2018, 13:12
I have no faith in the Government to tell the truth, or anything closely related to it. In this instance too many loose ends are evident, from the disappearance of the Skripals down a wormhole never to be seen again through this incredulous container story, the relentless government spin without a shred of evidence (but much to the contrary). Also the alleged connection to the Trump dossier, bizarre.

It does raise a question though - what if they were both genuine poisonings but the second was instigated by somebody unconnected with the first for whatever reasons?

The second instigator may be trying to stir the pot.

I see nothing at all suspicious about the Skripals being kept in a secure and secret location. There's clear evidence that someone wants them dead - they've tried once and failed, so there has to be a pretty good suspicion that whoever was behind this attack may well try again, especially if their motivation is a feeling of betrayal.

The only spin I've seen from government has come from buffoons like Boris, who was talking out of his backside most of the time (nothing new there). I've not seen anything credible linking this to Trump at all - that seems to be pure media speculation.

The chances of exactly the same batch of an unusual, non-weaponised, former Soviet Union, chemical agent being used in two unconnected attacks seems just too incredible to stand up to scrutiny. The facts we know are that one of the second victims was a person that went around picking things up, with a view to selling them. What are the chances that a supposed second attacker happened to select him and choose to plant an extremely hazardous container in a place where only he would be likely to pick it up? There's little logic to that hypothesis, whereas one of the second victims picking up a container discarded months before by the original attacker does seem to fit the known facts pretty well, even down to the probable location of the container when he picked it up.

Union Jack
18th Jul 2018, 14:06
It does raise a question though - what if they were both genuine poisonings but the second was instigated by somebody unconnected with the first for whatever reasons?

The second instigator may be trying to stir the pot.

Which curiously enough, however far-fetched, could lead to a charge of murder if any perpetrator were ever brought to trial, whereas I cannot envisage how the death of the unfortunate woman as a result of coming in contact with the agent used against the Skripals could legally be regarded as murder, as has been widely reported, rather than manslaughter.

Jack

VP959
18th Jul 2018, 14:27
Which curiously enough, however far-fetched, could lead to a charge of murder if any perpetrator were ever brought to trial, whereas I cannot envisage how the death of the unfortunate woman as a result of coming in contact with the agent used against the Skripals could legally be regarded as murder, as has been widely reported, rather than manslaughter.

Jack

That was my thought when they announced that it was a murder enquiry, as I couldn't see how a charge of murder could be brought. I believe that the use of the term "murder" in this case just relates to the way the enquiry will be conducted, though, and hence resourced.

It seems clear that there was an intention to cause the possible death of the Skripals, in that they were specifically targeted, so in the extremely unlikely event of the perpetrator(s) being caught I can see them facing an attempted murder charge. There is a very strong link between the specific agent used against the Skripals and that which has killed Dawn Sturgess and poisoned Charlie Rowley, one that I'm certain will be forensically strong enough to prove that the agent was from the same batch, perhaps from the same container as they picked up. That would then mean (as I understand it, and I stand to be corrected if I'm mistaken) that a manslaughter charge could be brought regarding the death of Dawn Sturgess on the basis of gross negligence.

It's almost certainly hypothetical though, as I think the chance of finding out the identity of the attacker(s) and bringing him/them to justice, is vanishingly small.

roving
18th Jul 2018, 14:42
If I arm myself with a rifle intending to shoot and kill A and I miss him and kill B, a stranger standing near to him, I have committed the offence of murder.

flash8
18th Jul 2018, 15:29
If I arm myself with a rifle intending to shoot and kill A and I miss him and kill B, a stranger standing near to him, I have committed the offence of murder.

That is fascinating what you say... I would have assumed (as a layman) that two charges 1) Attempted Murder and 2) Manslaughter would be laid. You remind me that if ever I am to transgress (in a minor fashion like stealing sweets lest people view me in horror) I first better fully understand the consequences of any charges potentially brought against me.

My reasoning here is I had no intention of killing (or even harming) B and their death was therefore without any specific intent (mens rea?) on my part, negligence, yes, therefore a manslaughter charge.

DaveReidUK
18th Jul 2018, 15:53
My reasoning here is I had no intention of killing (or even harming) B and their death was therefore without any specific intent (mens rea?) on my part, negligence, yes, therefore a manslaughter charge.

Your reasoning would be wrong.

Google Tanesha Melbourne or Joanne Rand, for example.

A_Van
18th Jul 2018, 16:15
Worth reading back through this thread to clarify what has already been pointed out, both about the unique signature of this batch of A234 and about some of the links posted.
I think the myths being spread by the ill-informed, but very vocal, conspiracy theorists have been well and truly debunked, and the identity of the agent and the fact that it was from a specific batch manufactured in Shikhany in the early 1980's have been proven by the independent OPCW accredited labs. As stated several times here already, those labs obtained their own samples and conducted their own tests and all of them concluded that the signature of the agent matched the UK findings.

You wrote that, but, sorry, this is not convincing.
I see the only official report (summary) published by this organization, here it is:
https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/S_series/2018/en/s-1612-2018_e_.pdf
There is nothing there similar to what you wrote above.
I assume though I was not able to find a more detailed report. Can you give a proof link to any official OPCW document stating what you wrote, please?

Anyway, even if such a document exists, since the Russian experts were not allowed to participate in the identification process, without them anybody could write whatever they like. Blaming with no evidence, just politics. We know who run OPCW and how they are generating reports in Syria without visiting the sites and even about the events that never happened.


There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind as to what the agent was or where and when it was manufactured. Like others I do have doubts as to who was behind the attack, again as already stated earlier in this thread.


OK, me too as far as your second sentence is concerned.

Initially I was tending to think that it was a provocation designed by some groups in UK who were interested to raise (once again) tension between Russia and West, but after the second case I have serious doubts. Those who manipulated with the substance seem to be complete idiots and laymen. Quite unlikely that "special services" either in East or West perform that bad.

DaveReidUK
18th Jul 2018, 16:45
Well I do know this as stated by me in the same post earlier on if you bothered to read it fully.

Yes, that's why I said "your reasoning would be wrong" (having read your post), not "your reasoning was wrong".

I would have assumed (as a layman) that two charges 1) Attempted Murder and 2) Manslaughter would be laid.

megan
18th Jul 2018, 16:55
If I arm myself with a rifle intending to shoot and kill A and I miss him and kill B, a stranger standing near to him, I have committed the offence of murder I'm with roving and DaveReid, you're guilty of murder. You're going to need a good lawyer flash.Murder is an offence under the common law of England and Wales. It is considered the most serious form of homicide, in which one person kills another with the intention to unlawfully cause either death or serious injury. The element of intentionality was originally termed malice aforethought although it required neither malice nor premeditation.Because murder is generally defined in law as an intent to cause serious harm or injury (alone or with others), combined with a death arising from that intention, there are certain circumstances where a death will be treated as murder even if the defendant did not wish to kill the actual victim. This is called "transferred malice", and arises in two common cases:

The defendant intended serious harm to one or more persons, but an unintended other person dies as a result;

Several people share an intent to do serious harm, and the victim dies because of the action of any of those involved (for example, if another person goes "further than expected" or performs an unexpectedly lethal action). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_in_English_law

Sallyann1234
18th Jul 2018, 17:01
My reasoning here is I had no intention of killing (or even harming) B and their death was therefore without any specific intent (mens rea?) on my part, negligence, yes, therefore a manslaughter charge.
The intention is to kill. If you succeed in killing, a victim is dead and you are a murderer. I don't see what the victim's identity has to do with it.

VP959
18th Jul 2018, 17:03
Thanks for that, megan, I was unaware of that aspect of the law but the concept of "transferred malice" makes a lot of sense. It certainly seems to apply in this case, as there seems little doubt at all that there was an intention to murder Sergei and/or Yulia Skripal, and by carelessly disposing of a very lethal weapon in such a way that it killed and injured others, it seems to meet the criteria. I stand corrected on what I thought might apply in my post above.

flash8
18th Jul 2018, 17:33
Yes, that's why I said "your reasoning would be wrong" (having read your post), not "your reasoning was wrong".

Sorry Dave wrong end of the stick, deleted the post. I will say however that I was completely unaware of the law as it is... mind you I am not in the UK and here I err on the side of caution with everything just in case...

The intention is to kill. If you succeed in killing, a victim is dead and you are a murderer. I don't see what the victim's identity has to do with it.

​​​​​​​Fair point.

Shandy52
18th Jul 2018, 17:55
It does raise a question though - what if they were both genuine poisonings but the second was instigated by somebody unconnected with the first for whatever reasons?

The second instigator may be trying to stir the pot.

Now you're just being silly.

flash8
18th Jul 2018, 18:04
Now you're just being silly.

Well, perhaps, however it can't be ruled out, best keep an open mind on such things, however unlikely.

Stirring the pot might not be the best way of putting it, but instigating it with a desired outcome of some sort.

Groaner
19th Jul 2018, 07:15
Being reported in various newspapers:

Officers think several Russians were involved in the attempted murder of the former double agent and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury and are looking for more than one suspect, the British-based news agency Press Association claims.

A source with knowledge of the investigation told PA: “Investigators believe they have identified the suspected perpetrators of the novichok attack through CCTV and have cross-checked this with records of people who entered the country around that time. They (the investigators) are sure they (the suspects) are Russian.”

VP959
19th Jul 2018, 07:32
Being reported in various newspapers:

Officers think several Russians were involved in the attempted murder of the former double agent and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury and are looking for more than one suspect, the British-based news agency Press Association claims.

A source with knowledge of the investigation told PA: “Investigators believe they have identified the suspected perpetrators of the novichok attack through CCTV and have cross-checked this with records of people who entered the country around that time. They (the investigators) are sure they (the suspects) are Russian.”

If it turns out that the perpetrators are Russian, I think the media would be well-advised to not assume that Russian = Russian government.

I can't see what Vladimir Putin would have to gain right now by authorising such an attack, but I can see that there could be some powerful Russians who would have a very strong personal motive for wanting revenge against Sergei Skripal. I get the feeling that Putin cannot always maintain control of some of the powerful people in Russia, and that a large part of his "tough man" approach is aimed at bringing loads of powerful mavericks under control, probably including some his former colleagues in the security services. I'm not 100% convinced he has all of them under control even now, perhaps one of our members resident in Russia might like to comment on this.

VP959
19th Jul 2018, 09:38
It seems the BBC have more on this story, but are stressing that they haven't verified it yet: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44883803

One bit of new information is that the independent OPCW labs have been to Salisbury to independently collect samples of the agent used against Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley and are now taking those samples for analysis in their own labs to see if the agent is from the same batch as that used in the attack on the Skripals. My understanding is that Porton Down may have already confirmed that it is from the same batch, but if the independent OPCW accredited labs reach the same conclusion then that removes pretty much any doubt that the latest poisoning was unrelated to the Skripal attack.

jolihokistix
19th Jul 2018, 10:03
Reminding me more and more of the DPRK hit on Kim’s older brother in Kuala Lumpur airport. Did the Russians copy the the NK gang, (who jumped onto a plane home right after observing their plan carried out) or vice versa, or is there an old Soviet manual for such operations?

A_Van
19th Jul 2018, 10:16
I can't see what Vladimir Putin would have to gain right now by authorising such an attack, but I can see that there could be some powerful Russians who would have a very strong personal motive for wanting revenge against Sergei Skripal. I get the feeling that Putin cannot always maintain control of some of the powerful people in Russia, and that a large part of his "tough man" approach is aimed at bringing loads of powerful mavericks under control, probably including some his former colleagues in the security services. I'm not 100% convinced he has all of them under control even now, perhaps one of our members resident in Russia might like to comment on this.I see a lot of sense and even wisdom, if you like, in this your "thinking outloud". Perhaps the only point I would disagree is about (quoting) "...powerful Russians who would have a very strong personal motive for wanting revenge against Sergei Skripal". I am sure S.S. is of no interest to any "powerful Russian" because he is such a low-level figure right now. Could bring no harm any more to anybody, as he did before he had been caught and sentenced. I could assume that an individual (or individuals) who personally suffered of his betrayal might look for revenge, but in this case why did not he/she do it earlier (even when he was in Russia) and why selecting such an exotic method? The guys in that "community" usually select quick and reliable way, necessarily implying that the victim would see the executor and hear the final sentence before catching "quick lead" between the eyes. Here it was unreliable and obviously anonymous.

If it turns out that the perpetrators are Russian, I think the media would be well-advised to not assume that Russian = Russian government.

I think the (Russian) government will be the target. Strange that it took so long to "identify" "Russian murderers". The investigators would have to simply check with the border control who passed through and out the country a few days before and after the event, and select the appropriate persons who might be linked to the "bloody regime". Any current or former governmental employee could fall into such a category. Probably collecting and analysing personal data took some time. Then the British will claim to bring "those identified" to the (British) court, the Russians will send such claims to hell, and the British will consider this rejection as an evidence. Practice as usual.

VP959
19th Jul 2018, 10:48
There seems to be a fairly comprehensive body of evidence that the former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact states effectively under Soviet Union control, used tactics that were similar to this attack in some ways. I would stress that I don't believe that it's intrinsically Russian behaviour, but that of the former Soviet Union and its allies.

Well known poisoning attacks include Georgi Markov, who was killed by an assailant who was a member of the Bulgarian Secret Service, but who had been instructed and trained by the KGB. The ingenious, but painful and rather bizarre, method used was to fire a tiny pellet (I've seen it, it is very small indeed) with hollows drilled into it, into his leg, using a modified umbrella tip. The hollows in the pellet were filled with ricin, and caused him to die a slow and painful death four days after being attacked on Waterloo Bridge.

The earliest records of the former Soviet Union (most probably the KGB) using poison attacks against dissidents go right back to the 1950s, when they developed a poison vapour gun, specifically to assassinate "enemies of the state". However, before that there had been a long history of rather bizarre poison weapons, like the curare-tipped bullets used in an attempt to assassinate Lenin. The KGB tried to kill Tito using a bacterial toxin delivered in a jewel box. Thallium was a known poison used by the KGB to slowly kill "enemies of the state", to send a message to others.

The KGB had a specific research and production facility dedicated to devising poisons, toxins and delivery systems intended solely for the purpose of carrying out assassinations. These ranged from methods of assassination intended to be covert, making the victim appear to have died from natural causes (presumably to be used in more sensitive assassinations, such as those outwith the borders of the Soviet Union and its allies) to methods intended to send a message to others, such as the case with Markov.

In the post-Soviet era there seem to have been a significant number of what can best be described as unusual incidents, that seem connected to the way the old KGB "assassination by poison" branch seems to have operated. Some are well known, like Alexander Litninenko and his death from Polonium poisoning, so are less well known, but the following list is a reasonable starting point if looking to research what may or may not have been attacks:

- The death of Yuri Shchekochikhin , a journalist, apparently from thallium poisoning, in 2003

- The apparent attempted poisoning of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko in 2004

- The apparent attempted poisoning of Anna Politkovskaya , a journalist, in 2004

- The apparent poisoning in London of Alexander Perepilichny, in 2012, using gelsemium, a pretty rare toxin.

In addition to the few mentioned above, there are others whose deaths look suspicious, but where foul play could not be proved. One of the techniques that the KGB specialised in was assassinations that looked like death from natural causes. Little is known about how they developed these, or how they were administered, but one fairly reasonable theory is that they developed a way to inject a potassium salt into a victim using a method that left no puncture mark that could be found during an autopsy. The reason that this is a reasonably covert way of killing someone is that it induces a heart attack, but after the person has died natural cell breakdown causes plasma potassium levels to markedly increase. This increase may be used to mask the use of potassium as a toxin.

There's a fair bit of reasonably reliable information on former Soviet Union assassination methods, and some on the techniques used specifically by the KGB, or under KGB instruction. If interested in this rather dark and bizarre aspect of history, then some of the published investigatory information is worth a read, as it definitely gives an insight into the way the former Soviet Union, and specifically the KGB, thought.

The only note of caution I would give is to not assume that modern Russia has the same mindset or uses the same methods today as their predecessors in the former Soviet Union. I'm certain there are still people in Russia who are of that old KGB mindset, but I think we cannot just jump to the conclusion that these same people are working for, sponsored by, or covertly encouraged by, the Russian state. If anything, I'd say that the chances are that there are still pretty big power struggles going on underground in Russia, with Vladimir Putin working hard to try and suppress those that would seek to wield power that might remove him from office. I also suspect that committing high profile crimes that may, in the minds of some, be seen as being instigated by the Russian government itself may well be a technique used by those opposed to Putin in order to undermine his standing in the international community.

VP959
19th Jul 2018, 10:54
I see a lot of sense and even wisdom, if you like, in this your "thinking outloud". Perhaps the only point I would disagree is about (quoting) "...powerful Russians who would have a very strong personal motive for wanting revenge against Sergei Skripal". I am sure S.S. is of no interest to any "powerful Russian" because he is such a low-level figure right now. Could bring no harm any more to anybody, as he did before he had been caught and sentenced. I could assume that an individual (or individuals) who personally suffered of his betrayal might look for revenge, but in this case why did not he/she do it earlier (even when he was in Russia) and why selecting such an exotic method? The guys in that "community" usually select quick and reliable way, necessarily implying that the victim would see the executor and hear the final sentence before catching "quick lead" between the eyes. Here it was unreliable and obviously anonymous.

My personal view is that the attack on the Skripals was very personal, and connected to his betrayal. As to why do it now, then that could be something as simple as his former colleagues now reaching retirement age and being free to act.

I think the weapon was chosen to send a message to traitors - his attackers wanted the world to think this was Russia seeking vengeance for betrayal. There's a long history of the old KGB using weird and wonderful toxins to assassinate people, going back decades.



I think the (Russian) government will be the target. Strange that it took so long to "identify" "Russian murderers". The investigators would have to simply check with the border control who passed through and out the country a few days before and after the event, and select the appropriate persons who might be linked to the "bloody regime". Any current or former governmental employee could fall into such a category. Probably collecting and analysing personal data took some time. Then the British will claim to bring "those identified" to the (British) court, the Russians will send such claims to hell, and the British will consider this rejection as an evidence. Practice as usual.

I agree, I'm convinced the attackers wanted the Russian government to be blamed, and particularly Vladimir Putin. It would be useful if our Russian-based members could throw in their views on this.

Effluent Man
19th Jul 2018, 11:24
Well at least now there looks like a reasonable chance of actually identifying the perpetrators. It will be interesting to see the reaction of our government should they turn out not to be state agents but individuals with a grudge.

ORAC
19th Jul 2018, 11:27
There was little point, and substantial international opprobrium, in the Duma passing a law making the murder of those considered enemies of the state outside Russia legal if they didn’t intend to use it.....

chevvron
19th Jul 2018, 11:28
[QUOTE=chevvron;10193878]She was living in a 'hostel' implying she was hard up.
If they sat in QE Park in Salisbury and she happened to notice a a perfume spray in the grass, maybe labelled 'Chanel' or 'Dior', she's going to pick it up and spray a bit on herself to see what it's like isn't she.
She then snogs him and anything on her face is going to be transferred.
The above is purely my own theory, but the spray could also have been used on the Skripal's doorknob then be thrown away where she found it..[QUOTE]
Posted 11 Jul.
Was I right?

VP959
19th Jul 2018, 11:53
She was living in a 'hostel' implying she was hard up.
If they sat in QE Park in Salisbury and she happened to notice a a perfume spray in the grass, maybe labelled 'Chanel' or 'Dior', she's going to pick it up and spray a bit on herself to see what it's like isn't she.
She then snogs him and anything on her face is going to be transferred.
The above is purely my own theory, but the spray could also have been used on the Skripal's doorknob then be thrown away where she found it..
Posted 11 Jul.
Was I right?

Not far off, in fact very close, I reckon. The differences I think are that the hostel in question is supported accommodation, often used for those recovering from addiction, I believe, and I doubt the bottle was a spray type, given the oily and viscous nature of the agent, and the report that the contamination was found on the victims hands. I suspect the bottle is more likely to have been the type with a "dabber" in the stopper, or perhaps a spray modified by the perpetrators to direct a jet of this agent. The idea of atomising the agent seems very risky to those delivering it to me, the slightest breeze could have led to them inhaling it, and it's a hell of a lot more toxic, and faster acting, if inhaled or ingested.

VP959
19th Jul 2018, 11:58
There was little point, and substantial international opprobrium, in the Duma passing a law making the murder of those considered enemies of the state outside Russia legal if they didn’t intend to use it.....


I suspect that law was passed not so much to allow the state to freely murder outside it's own borders, as to allow others from Russia to do so. It gives the Russian government a reason not to take action against any citizen that is suspected of murder outside Russia, and that is probably a useful law if they wish the state to stay one step removed. It assists the Russian government position with regard to assassinations of dissidents outside Russia, by allowing non-government individuals to carry out such crimes free in the knowledge that, even if identified, they haven't committed a crime as far as Russia is concerned.

DaveReidUK
19th Jul 2018, 12:57
I suspect that law was passed not so much to allow the state to freely murder outside it's own borders, as to allow others from Russia to do so. It gives the Russian government a reason not to take action against any citizen that is suspected of murder outside Russia, and that is probably a useful law if they wish the state to stay one step removed. It assists the Russian government position with regard to assassinations of dissidents outside Russia, by allowing non-government individuals to carry out such crimes free in the knowledge that, even if identified, they haven't committed a crime as far as Russia is concerned.

Had the Skripals been declared enemies of the state and therefore legitimate targets for a freelance assassination ?