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.
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:
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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