May told UK ‘only two Novichok alternatives’. What’s her/BBC’s excuse for ignoring this, then?

Theresa May told MPs and the country this week that we have no choice but to conclude Russia’s culpability for the nerve-agent attack – reportedly ‘Novichok’ – in Salisbury.

She based this claim on the idea that there are only two possible alternatives – either Russia committed the attack, or Russia ‘lost control’ of its chemical weapons. And, since the beastly Russians had only responded with sarcasm (!) to her demand that they pick one of her binary options, there was “no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian state was culpable“:

This claim – that the only realistic answer to the provenance of the nerve agent attack is the Russian state, with a minute possibility that the Russian state negligently lost some ‘Novichok’ – has been treated as fact by the mainstream media, including the BBC News channel, as well as, to their shame, by Labour ‘moderates’.

None of them have any excuse.

A simple search for relevant keywords will immediately turn up the fact that – according to the BBC among other sources – there was another country that held major stocks of nerve agents.

Including ‘novichoks’.

Uzbekistan was a part of the Soviet Union until 1991, when it declared its independence. Eight years later, the BBC and other outlets reported that US experts were in Uzbekistan to help destroy its stocks of nerve-agents, especially novichoks – because Uzbekistan had been a major testing centre for the chemical weapons:

us uzb novich

Uzbekistan was, for eight whole years, in possession of novichoks and not controlled by Russia. So there are several other possible scenarios, in addition to Mrs May’s ‘only two possible’ – that could easily have nothing whatever to do with the Russian government:

  • secret sales by Uzbekistan
  • theft from Uzbekistan by persons unknown
  • retention of samples by US personnel during the destruction process in 1999/2000 that later found their way into other hands

It’s even possible, though unlikely, that the US kept some and misused it.

Mrs May’s claim is simply untrue. As Jeremy Corbyn has stated, it’s quite possible that the Russian government was involved in the Salisbury attack. It could conceivable even be likely.

But it’s certainly not true that there is “no alternative conclusion“.

BBC News has no excuse for allowing Theresa May’s claim to pass unchallenged in any of its broadcasts – its own archives would make perfectly clear that there are other possibilities.

But that’s not all. Just yesterday, the BBC website published an article titled “Russian spy: what are Novichok agents and what do they do?“. That article repeats – again unchallenged – the position taken by the UK, US, Germany and France that Russian involvement in the attack is the “only plausible explanation“.

It also links directly to the same BBC article pictured above – but fails even to mention the possibility that the nerve-agent used in Salisbury originated in Uzbekistan when Uzbekistan was no longer Soviet-controlled.

So it’s not as though the BBC hadn’t noticed its old article on US de-commissioning of Novichoks in Uzbekistan and therefore treated Mrs May’s emphatic claim of only two possibilities as factual or reasonable.

These matters are not revelations. They are easily available to anyone who can use Google, let alone who has access to intelligence services or trained researchers.

Yet still the ‘MSM’, including the BBC, are acting as eager amplifiers for the government’s clearly-unsupportable claim that the “only plausible explanation” is direct Russian state involvement – and anti-Corbyn MPs are posturing about the need for Labour to ‘stand shoulder-to-shoulder’ with the government, when there’s no proof against whom we should be standing.

Corbyn, as usual, is on the right side of this issue – and in spite of the best efforts of the Establishment and media, their story to the contrary is rapidly unravelling.

After all, pretty much all of us can use the internet these days.

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  1. Are we really expected to believe anything our PM says, she and her party have been proven to be liars time and time again.

    The problem for the Tories is that they still haven’t caught up with the fact that their lies can be exposed in seconds by a simple Google search. Gone are the days when those in power could lie to us with impunity. No wonder they are so desperate to ‘protect us’ by gaining control of the internet.

  2. Note the Uzbekistan Chemical Research Institute above is near Nukus. So also rather relevant is a U.S. Library of Congress report which says:

    “As a result of the narcotics route from Uzbekistan’s border with Afghanistan across Uzbekstan through Bukhara and Urgench to Nukus in the western province of Karakalpakstan and thence into Kazakhstan and Russia, the volume of narcotics traffic into Kyrgyzstan increased significantly after 1999.”

    Source is page 14 (pdf 17) of:


    “Involvement of Russian Organized Crime Syndicates, Criminal Elements in the Russian Military, and Regional Terrorist Groups in Narcotics Trafficking in Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Chechnya”
    – October 2002

  3. Yesterday’s radio 4 PM programme covered this, but seems the rest of BBC news just went with the simplistic narrative

  4. Unfortunately, Corbyn too has now accepted May’s narrative, in yesterday’s Guardian: “Theresa May was right on Monday to identify two possibilities for the source of the attack in Salisbury, given that the nerve agent used has been identified as of original Russian manufacture. … the Russian authorities must be held to account”. This narrative is false: https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2018/03/16/

    1. Interesting caveat, though: “given that the nerve agent used has been identified as of original Russian manufacture”.

      Because that is what the Tories have strongly implied and led the MSM to believe, but is expressly not what they said. Their actual wording was, “of a type developed by Russia”.

      He now has a nailed on way of exposing what May tried to imply as a lie, once they are forced to row back on that statement as more information emerges.

      So I think he has played it quite cannily: his support is expressly based on the assurance May has given, which we all know is likely to prove false. And May’s only defence to a charge of lying, and deliberately misleading the House, will be to rely on weasel words that will destroy the tattered remnants of her reputation.

  5. It would appear Theresa May has misled the Commons.

    Which is of course a resignation issue.

    1. Internal Affairs. Don’t hold your breath. Se tells porkies week in week out at PMQs, she’s never picked up on them. This is just another.

  6. Craig Murray – Historian, Former Ambassador, Human Rights Activist:

    I have now received confirmation from a well placed FCO source that Porton Down scientists are not able to identify the nerve gas as being of Russian manufacture, and have been resentful of the pressure being placed on them to do so.

    Until this week, the near universal belief among chemical weapons experts, and the official position of the OPCW, was that “Novichoks” were at most a theoretical research programme which the Russians had never succeeded in actually synthesising and manufacturing. That is why they are not on the OPCW list of banned chemical weapons.

    Porton Down is still not certain it is the Russians who have apparently synthesised a “Novichok”. Hence “Of a type developed by Russia”. Note developed, not made, produced or manufactured.

    It is very carefully worded propaganda. Of a type developed by liars.


    This post prompted another old colleague to get in touch. On the bright side, the FCO have persuaded Boris he has to let the OPCW investigate a sample. But not just yet. The expectation is the inquiry committee will be chaired by a Chinese delegate. The Boris plan is to get the OPCW also to sign up to the “as developed by Russia” formula, and diplomacy to this end is being undertaken in Beijing right now.

    I don’t suppose there is any sign of the BBC doing any actual journalism on this?


  7. Whenever I read political propaganda stories like the Novichok fable we’re being fed lately, it always makes me think of an old song from an old Irish rock band I loved from my youth. As it’s St Patrick’s Day tomorrow, here’s the track 😉

  8. I fear that this novichok drama is part of something even more sinister, especially considering the speed in which Macron changed his tune. On the bright side, the way that Mr Putin has outwitted the enemies of Syria so far, they will need to come up with something rather more convincing than this shambolic attempt to smear the Russians.

  9. The plot thickens against the Tories and those on the right!
    How long now before she (“MAY”) does, yet another “U TURN” and disappears up her own arse?
    She can’t carry this burden of lies and deceit much longer!
    I think, it won’t be long before she crashes and unwinds before all our eyes!
    Goodbye and good riddance to all those on the right!

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