London, UK— Former British ambassador Craig Murray, in an interview with RT, took direct aim at what he labeled a “desire by NATO members… to step up the cold war and enhance confrontation with Russia,” in relation to the claims that Russia used novichok nerve agent on Sergei Skripal and his daughter on British soil.
While Prime Minister Theresa May’s government has consistently laid the blame on Russia, scientists from the secretive defense laboratory Porton Down dealt this accusation a blow when it was revealed they could not confirm a Russian origin of the novichok nerve agent used in the Salisbury attack.
Scientists at Porton Down announced earlier in the week that they were unable to substantiate the government’s assertions that the nerve agent used to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter had been produced in Russia:
The Guardian reports that Gary Aitkenhead, the chief executive of the government’s Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), said that while the substance had been identified as a military-grade novichok nerve agent, which could likely only be deployed by a nation-state (a disputed contention), there was no confirmation of Russian origins.
The Porton Down statement was “extremely important” according to Murray, who claimed that “a fortnight ago sources inside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office told me they were ‘under pressure’ to say it was made in Russia” but they knew they were unable to do so and ‘refused.’”
“What we have seen today is news management because the Government had to get over the hurdle the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will shortly be telling people there is no evidence this came from Russia,” Murray said. “The Government decided for damage limitation it was best Porton Down came out and said that first. We will see careful news management over the next day or two.”
While Porton Down scientists said “a state” was likely to be behind the attack, due to the complexity of the agent, Murray said this assertion is inaccurate and that there is evidence to the contrary.
“The ‘probably’ in the statement is very important, there are many people including David Colum, professor of organic chemistry at Cornell University, who says it’s just not true it has to be a state and any of his senior students could make it,” Murray stated.
Murray went on to say that he suspected government handlers had made a hasty addition to the end of the Porton Down statement in an attempt to allow for increased suspicion to be focused on Russia after failing to legitimately tie the novichok to Russia.
“If you watch the interview, the sentence where he says it would probably need a state to make it is tacked on to the end. If you look closely, not only has the shot changed, the camera and tripod have actually moved. I strongly suspect government handlers who would have been in that room watching him were unhappy with his interview and wanted something which implicated Russia more, so added a bit onto the end.”
Furthermore, Murray claimed at least a couple of dozen states could make it— including the U.S. and U.K.— and went on to note that there “ought to be an investigation into a serious crime.”
“We are told probably this and likely that, well that is not the way criminal verdicts are found,” Murray said.
“This quite simply feeds into a desire by NATO members in particular to step up the cold war and enhance confrontation with Russia. This has to be seen in a wider geopolitical context. Within that context the last thing the politicians care about is the truth about what happened in Salisbury.”