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OPCW expert says no BZ substance detected in Salisbury samples

OPCW Director General Ahmet Uzumcu emphasized the credibility and integrity of the OPCW designated laboratories

THE HAGUE, April 18. /TASS/. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has not detected the BZ substance in samples collected in the British city of Salisbury following the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, said Marc-Michael Blum, the head of the OPCW Laboratory and leader of the technical assistance team that was deployed to the United Kingdom.

"The precursor of BZ that is referred to in the public statements, commonly known as 3Q, was contained in the control sample prepared by the OPCW Lab in accordance with the existing quality control procedures. Otherwise it has nothing to do with the samples collected by the OPCW Team in Salisbury," he said.

OPCW Director General Ahmet Uzumcu, in turn, emphasized the credibility and integrity of the OPCW designated laboratories.

"The reliability and technical capabilities of the designated laboratories have been subject to close and rigorous scrutiny over the years," he said. "I would like to underline that the States Parties can be assured of the credibility and integrity of this network, and I am sure that the designated laboratories will continue to deliver in the same impeccable manner as they have done so to date. The technical and analytical capacity of the Organization must be seen as one of the corner stones, and one that is supported by the science," Uzumcu added.

The OPCW Executive Council’s meeting, called by Great Britain, is aimed at discussing the OPCW report based on the analysis of samples OPCW experts collected in the British city of Salisbury. It is yet unclear if London plans to put any document to the vote.

The previous OPCW meeting on the Skripcal case, initiated by Moscow on April 4, failed to pass a draft document prepared by Russia, Iran and China, which called on Russia and Great Britain to work together in compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention. The document also suggested that the OPCW director general assist the two countries in building technical cooperation.

Skripal incident

On March 4, former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia suffered the effects of an alleged nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury. Claiming that the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, London rushed to accuse Russia of being involved in the incident. Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that a program aimed at developing such a substance had existed neither in the Soviet Union nor in Russia.

However, the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced other restrictive measures against Moscow without presenting any evidence of its involvement in the incident. In retaliation to the UK’s steps, Russia expelled 23 British diplomats, closed the British consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg, while the British Council had to shut down its operations in Russia.

On March 26, in the wake of the Skripal incident, a number of EU member countries, the United States, Canada and Australia announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats. Washington expelled 60 diplomatic workers and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle.

The Russian Foreign Ministry later announced retaliatory measures against counties that had expelled Russian diplomats. In particular, Moscow expelled 60 US diplomats and closed the US consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg. The United Kingdom was requested to reduce the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia so that it would match the number of Russian diplomats in Great Britain.