In a statement by Gary Aitkenhead, the chief executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down, said that British scientists at Porton Down had not been able to definitively prove that the Novichok nerve agent which was allegedly used to poison Sergei and Yulia Skripal was made in Russia.
Aitkenhead also stated that the substance required “extremely sophisticated methods to create, something only in the capabilities of a state actor.”
He added that Porton Down was “able to identify it as Novichok, to identify that it was military-grade nerve agent.”
“We have not identified the precise source, but we have provided the scientific info to government who have then used a number of other sources.”
He further stated that establishing its origin required “other inputs”, some of them intelligence-based, that the government has access to.
Aitkenhead added: “It is our job to provide the scientific evidence of what this particular nerve agent is. We identified that it is from this particular family and that it is a military grade, but it is not our job to say where it was manufactured.”
He went on to say that there is no known antidote to Novichok, and that none was given to either of the Skripals.
Aitkenhead would not comment on whether the laboratory had developed or kept stocks of Novichok, but dismissed the suggestion from Russia that the agent used to poison the Skripals could have come from Porton Down.
“There is no way anything like that could have come from us or left the four walls of our facility,” said Aitkenhead.
We refer you to our recent article and particularly question 7.
The above statement by Aitkenhead is interesting for a number of reasons
- Porton Down had not been able to definitively prove that the Novichok nerve agent was made in Russia. So what intelligence does the UK government therefore possess to implicate Russia?
- If there is no known antidote for Novichok then how exactly has Yulia Skripal made a recovery from a nerve agent that can be up to 8 times more potent than VX?
- Why would Aitkenhead not comment on whether Porton Down had developed or kept stocks of Novichok?