Russian chemist says worked on Novichok, despite official claims

March 21, 2018 | 09:32
A Russian scientist told state media Tuesday (Mar 20) he worked on an official programme to produce the nerve agent Britain says was used against ex-spy Sergei Skripal, contradicting Moscow's claims it never developed Novichok.
russian chemist says worked on novichok despite official claims
Britain and its allies say Russia was behind the attempted assassination in the English city of Salisbury. (Photo: AFP/Ben Stansall)

Leonid Rink, who told RIA Novosti he worked on a state-backed programme up to the early 1990s, added that the former double agent and his daughter would be dead had Moscow been involved in his poisoning.

"They are still alive. That means that either it was not the Novichok system at all, or it was badly concocted, carelessly applied," he said in the interview.

"Or straight after the application, the English used an antidote, in which case they would have had to have known exactly what the poison was," he said.

Rink said he worked at a state laboratory in the closed town of Shikhan for 27 years, where the development of Novichok formed the basis of his doctoral dissertation.

"A large group of specialists in Shikhan and Moscow worked on 'Novichok'," he said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov last week said Moscow never had any programmes to develop the chemical weapon.

"I want to state with all possible certainty that the Soviet Union or Russia had no programmes to develop a toxic agent called Novichok," he said.

The foreign ministry told AFP on Tuesday this remained its position.

London and its allies say Russia was behind the attempted assassination in the English city of Salisbury, but Moscow has angrily denied any involvement.

Russian politicians have suggested the poisoning was part of a Western plot to whip up anti-Russian sentiment ahead of the presidential election at the weekend or the World Cup.

AFP

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