Sat May 5th, 2018 at 01:21:42 AM EST
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Skripals poisoned by novichok dose of up to 100g, watchdog says
Quantity of nerve agent dose thought to have been used suggests it was created as a weapon
The former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with a dose of liquid nerve agent as large as 50-100 grams, the director general of the international chemical weapons watchdog has told The New York Times . [Soon after publication of the interview with its head, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons withdrew this claim saying it could make no such estimate. See footnote below.]
Ahmet Üzümcü, of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said the amount of novichok - a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union - used was significantly more than needed for research purposes, which indicates it was likely created for use as a weapon.
In an interview with the New York Times, Üzümcü said he had been told that about 50-100g of the nerve agent was thought to have been used in the attack in Salisbury - 100g is equivalent to 100ml, the maximum amount of liquid allowed in carry-on luggage on a flight.
OPCW Spokesperson's Statement on Amount of Nerve Agent Used in Salisbury
THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- 4 May 2018 -- In response to questions from the media, the OPCW Spokesperson stated that the OPCW would not be able to estimate or determine the amount of the nerve agent that was used in Salisbury on 4 March 2018. The quantity should probably be characterised in milligrams. However, the analysis of samples collected by the OPCW Technical Assistance Visit team concluded that the chemical substance found was of high purity, persistent and resistant to weather conditions.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW oversees the global endeavour to permanently and verifiably eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention's entry into force in 1997 - and with its 192 States Parties - it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
○ Salisbury attack: Chemical weapons watchdog backtracks on '100g of novichok' claim | The Independent |
New York Times headline: Large Dose of Nerve Agent Used in Attack in Britain, Says Weapons Watchdog | Huff Post / Yahoo News |
Ahmet Üzümcü, director general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) , said that between 50 and 100 grams of Novichok was used in the attack on the pair in Salisbury on March 4.
The quantity ranges from slightly less than a quarter-cup to a half-cup of liquid and was significantly more than was needed for research purposes, meaning it was likely created for use as a weapon, Uzumcu said.
The agent could be applied with an aerosol spray or transported in liquid form, he said.
For research activities or protection you would need, for instance, five to 10 grams or so, but even in Salisbury it looks like they may have used more than that, without knowing the exact quantity, I am told it may be 50, 100 grams or so, which goes beyond research activities for protection, Uzumcu told the New York Times.
After the OPCW made a press statement, the New York Times did not issue a correction, but instead deleted its original article wholesale, replacing it with a new text.
Even after its apparent resolution, the episode raises questions. Why did Üzümcü overestimate the quantity of Novichok by a factor of thousands? It did not appear that he merely misspoke reading the context of the original NY Times article.
○ Czech government confirms it tested Novichok-type agent | DW |