The Russian chemist who revealed the existence of the novichok family of chemical agents to the world has dismissed the notion that a non-state actor could be behind the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England, earlier this month.
Vil Mirzayanov, 83, said the chemical was too dangerous for anyone but a “high-level senior scientist” to handle and that even he – who worked for 30 years inside the secret military installation where novichok was developed and gained extensive personal experience in handling the agent – would not know how to weaponize it.
He said he did not see how a criminal organization or other non-state group could pull off such an attack.
“It’s very, very tough stuff,” Mirzayanov told the Guardian at his home in New Jersey, where he has lived in exile since 1996. “I don’t believe it.
“You need a very high-qualified professional scientist,” he continued. “Because it is dangerous stuff. Extremely dangerous. You can kill yourself. First of all you have to have a very good shield, a very particular container. And after that to weaponize it – weaponize it is impossible without high technical equipment. It’s impossible to imagine.”
The British government has announced sanctions against Moscow over the poisoning of Skripal, and the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, said on Friday it was “overwhelmingly likely” that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, personally took the decision to use the nerve agent against the ex-spy. [Continue reading…]
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