I would have been saying, “No news is good news” – if not for the fact that the Tory government is continuing to broadcast unsubstantiated claims of Russian involvement in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.
The good news is that experts from the UN’s Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have arrived in the UK to examine the substance used to attack the Skripals.
We may hope that they are more effective in identifying that substance than our own people at Porton Down, who have been unwilling to support the Conservative government’s demand that Russian political leaders are behind the attack.
In the meantime, Boris Johnson’s claim that the Foreign Office has “information indicating that within the last decade, Russia has investigated ways of delivering nerve agents likely for assassination, and part of this programme has involved producing and stockpiling quantities of novichok. This is a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention” is falling apart very quickly.
As Craig Murray points out in his latest article on this subject, “within the last decade” could be any period of time between one second and ten years ago. It is entirely possible that Russia destroyed all its chemical weapons at a point in time after any such research was carried out – as the OPCW has stated. So the statement means nothing.
It would be very interesting to know the source of that information, though – as it seems Foreign Office staff were not aware of it before the weekend.
Mr Murray believes the information may have come from an unreliable source which would normally have been filtered out as untrustworthy. He says the government may have dispensed with such filters in an attempt to cobble together anything that could be accepted as plausible. After all, he says, that’s what happened with the intelligence on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Mr Murray adds a reminder that the Soviet chemical weapons programme was based at Nukus in Uzbekistan – a facility that was dismantled by Americans. If anything left that site, the Americans took it, he reckons.
So why the story? Renowned journalist John Pilger had a few interesting ideas when he was interviewed by Russia Today, which the Tories are trying hard to discredit as nothing more than a propaganda channel (despite many of them having appeared on its programmes and taken its money for doing so):
The British Government's accusations against Russia over the poisoning of the double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury is a 'carefully constructed drama' of the latest anti-Russia campaign… https://t.co/JCGzxQ6ihp
— John Pilger (@johnpilger) March 19, 2018
The Russian government has demanded that the Tories provide proof of its involvement in the affair.
This is a significant about-turn, considering the fact that, only 10 months ago, the Russian Embassy was supporting the Tory election campaign – even echoing one of its slogans:
Strong & stable government for our transformative time + end of ideology – a welcome convergence/fusion across Euro-Atlantic. pic.twitter.com/JCteJrml9V
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) May 19, 2017
We know the change was caused by the Tories, even though they don’t appear to have any evidence against Russia.
The question is: Why?
Is John Pilger right?
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