LONDON/BERLIN (Own report) – The German government still has no evidence to substantiate serious allegations it used to justify its participation in the mass expulsion of Russian diplomats from several western countries. In its response to a parliamentary interpellation, the government admits it has no findings of its own on the Salisbury nerve gas attack other than the alleged evidence presented by the British government. At the same time, the “arguments” that have been presented so far to suggest Russian guilt are loosing their credibility. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), for example, had to contradict the claim of its director general that up to a half-cup of novichok was used in Salisbury. The assumption that only Russia could have produced the neurotoxin has been refuted, since it became known that Germany had also been in possession of the agent. These unproven allegations show, more than anything else, an unrestrained willingness to escalate the power struggle with Moscow.
“No Further Evidence”
“A Half-Cup Novichok”
For weeks however, the inconsistencies in the British allegations have been growing more numerous. Already the specifications presented about the nerve agent used in the attack are contradictory. According to official information, British investigating bodies assume that the handle on Skripal’s apartment door had been treated with a “novichok” impregnated gel. Ahmet Üzümcü, Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) refuted this allegation in early May, claiming that the agent was used in liquid form, possibly also as a spray containing as much as 50-100 grams – “from slightly less than a quarter-cup to a half-cup of liquid.” These specifications are important, because, according to experts, such a large quantity of novichok was significantly more than that required for research purposes, but rather for chemical weapons production. On the other hand, the quantity would correspond to the volume of liquid (100 milliliters at most) allowed onboard civilian flights, suggesting that it could have been imported from abroad. However, experts immediately challenged Üzümcü’s allegation: 50 to 100 grams novichok would be enough to poison everyone in Skripal’s surrounding neighbourhood. Contradicting its director general, the OPCW stated that it “would not be able to estimate or determine the amount of the nerve agent that was used.” The quantity should nonetheless probably be characterized in milligrams.
Nerve Agent for the BND
In mid-May it had been reported that Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) also was in possession of novichok. In the 1990s, a BND agent, according to the reports, was able to acquire a sample of the neurotoxin – from a Russian scientist, who, along with divulging what he knows about the nerve agent, had also promised to supply German authorities with a small sample, in return for the right to safely reside in Germany. The German Chancellery and the defense ministry had agreed to the deal. The sample had been analyzed in a Swedish laboratory. The BND and the German Ministry of Defense were then provided the formula. Subsequently, German experts had participated in a NATO task force that had consolidated all knowledge on novichok. Alongside the BND, intelligence services from the United States, Canada, Great Britain and the Netherlands were also participating. As was reported, some of the NATO countries had produced small quantities of the neurotoxin – to then develop protective gear, measuring instruments and antidotes.
A few days ago, British police officials have in fact reaffirmed that they are a long way from resolving the case, indicating that it could still take “months” of meticulous investigation. Berlin’s readiness to raise serious accusations against Moscow, without any evidence demonstrates the German elite’s unrestrained willingness to escalate the power struggle with Moscow, regardless of international legal standards.
Full article: Willingness to Engage in a Power Struggle (German Foreign Policy)