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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/30/18

Questioning the Conventional Wisdom of Russian Spy's Poisoning

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By Dennis J Bernstein and Randy Credico


(Image by (Official Kremlin photo))   Details   DMCA

Former UK Ambassador Craig Murray found out very quickly what happens when one contradicts the conventional wisdom regarding the recent poisoning of former Russian spy and double agent Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia, in the English city of Salisbury on March 4.

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Ambassador Murray, who in the following interview raises compelling questions about who may be responsible for the attacks, other than the Russians, has been the butt of a full-scale cyber attack on his website over many days.

Meanwhile, the usual suspects in the US and Western corporate press continue to fan the flames of a new cold war with Russia. Indeed, Russia will expel 60 US diplomats and has ordered the shuttering of the US consulate in St. Petersburg, according to an announcement by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Lavrov, who made the announcement in Moscow on Thursday, March 29, summoned US ambassador Jon Huntsman to the Russian Foreign Ministry to confirm the action.

Dennis J. Bernstein and Randy Credico interviewed Ambassador Murray on March 26th, 2018.

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Dennis Bernstein: President Trump ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian officials from the United States and the closing of the Russian consulate in Seattle. The move follows the alleged poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury on March 4. Joining us is someone who knows a great deal about the matter and has come under fire for taking an oppositional position, former UK ambassador, author and activist, Craig Murray. Mr. Murray, everyone says the Russians did it, no doubt about it, but you disagree.

Craig Murray: I'm not saying the Russians didn't do it, I am saying there are other possibilities. We are not supposed to assign responsibility for crime in this way, saying there is a bad guy in the neighborhood and therefore it must be him. So far, there has been no real evidence at all that it was the Russian state that did it.

I find it remarkable that the very day this happened the British government was announcing that it was the Russian state that was behind this. They couldn't possibly have had time to analyze any of the evidence. It is as though this is being used as a trigger to put prearranged anti-Russian measures into place and to "up" the Cold War rhetoric. You can't help get the feeling that they are rather pleased this has happened and were even expecting it to happen.

DB: This is coming out of the European Union today: "The European Union strongly condemns the attack that took place against Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, England on March 4 that also left a police officer seriously ill. The lives of many citizens were threatened by this reckless and illegal action. The European Union takes extremely seriously the UK government's assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation is responsible."

CM: This phrase "highly likely" admits that they don't have the evidence to back this up. It's a speculation.

DB: They say that the poison is consistent with what the Russians have used in the past.

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CM: The claim is that this is one of a group of nerve agents known as a Novichok. The Novichok program was being run in the 1980's by the Soviets. The idea was to develop chemical weapons which could be quickly put together from commercial pesticides and fertilizers. They came up with a number of theoretical designs for such weapons.

Until now, the official position of the British government and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was that there was doubt as to whether they actually produced any of these. As of now, they haven't been put on the banned list, precisely because the scientific community has doubted their existence. So the British government's ability on day-one to identify this was quite remarkable.

Novichok is not a particular weapon but a class of weapon. Russia is by no means the only country capable of producing this kind of weapon. In 2016, the Iranians succeeded in producing several Novichok weapons and they reported their results to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Their motivation was that they were concerned that they themselves might be attacked by chemical weapons, possibly from Israel. There are at least a couple dozen countries who have the technical capability to create this type of nerve agent.

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Dennis J Bernstein is the host and executive producer of Flashpoints, a daily news magazine broadcast on Pacifica Radio. He is an award-winning investigative reporter, essayist and poet. His articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Nation, and (more...)
 

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