Swiss lab says Western-made nerve agent poisoned Skripals: Russia

The substance used for poisoning ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia was an incapacitating agent called BZ or 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (pictured) said on Saturday citing the federal-run Spiez Laboratory in Switzerland.

The chemical lab had examined the samples Britain handed over to the Organisation for the Prohibition of the Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The testing of the samples was carried out by four laboratories affiliated with the OPCW and Spiez Laboratory was one among them.

Lavrov suspects OPCW may have misidentified the substance that poisoned the Skripals.

Based on the test results gathered from the labs, the global chemical watchdog on April 12 confirmed British findings which pointed to the Soviet-era A-234 or Novichok. However, OPCW did not name the substance, where it came from, who produced it or when.

Lavrov said BZ identified by the Swiss chemical lab was never produced in Russia, but was in service in the US, UK, and other NATO states from 1961.

He said Moscow would ask the OPCW why it did not name ‘BZ’ as the nerve agent during its April 12 announcement.

Spiez Laboratory is controlled by the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection and ultimately by the country’s defence minister.

The lab is an internationally recognised centre of excellence in the field of the nuclear, biological, and chemical protection. It is is one of the five centres permanently authorised by the OPCW.

Lavrov said Britain never answered several questions about the Salisbury poisoning case or provided solid evidence against Russia.

Instead, it tried to extract a confession from Moscow by using threat. When Russia refused, Britain expelled 23 diplomats sparking a series of tit-for tat expulsions.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson found himself cornered when a British chemical lab said they are unable to trace the origin of the substance. Earlier, Johnson had told DW-TV that lab experts were quite certain it originated from Russia.

Many wondered whether Johnson was lying to the world. Russian ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, said on Friday that London is destroying all possible evidence related to the Skripal case.