Investigators From Chemical Weapons Watchdog To Arrive In UK

Investigators from chemical weapons watchdog (OPCW) to arrive in UK following the incident in Salisbury

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Independent investigators from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) will arrive in the UK tomorrow to kick off their investigation into the nerve agent used in the attempted assassinations of Mr Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury on 4 March.

The team from The Hague will meet with officials from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and the police to discuss the process for collecting samples, including environmental ones.

These will then be despatched to highly reputable international laboratories selected by the OPCW for testing with results expected to take a minimum of two weeks.

This is the next step in the process to independently verify the analysis carried out by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down. Last Wednesday, the Prime Minister wrote to the OPCW to formally invite them to verify the Government’s analysis of the nerve agent used in the Salisbury attack. Subsequently the UK’s Permanent Representative to the OPCW wrote to the Technical Secretariat inviting them to come to the UK to take a sample, under Article 8 of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

It reflects the UK’s commitment to fully complying with the obligations of the Chemical Weapons Convention. On 12 March the Foreign Secretary summoned the Russian Ambassador and sought an explanation from the Russian Government, as Article 9 of the convention is clear we have the right to do. We received no meaningful response. It is therefore Russia which is failing to comply with the provisions of the convention. We should resist any Russian attempts to muddy the waters.

The Foreign Secretary revealed this morning that we have information indicating that within the last decade, Russia has investigated ways of delivering nerve agents likely for assassination. And part of this programme has involved producing and stockpiling quantities of novichok. This is a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The start of the investigation by the international chemical weapons watchdog comes as the Foreign Secretary travels to Brussels to brief foreign ministers from across the European Union on the attempted assassinations in Salisbury before meeting with the NATO Secretary General.

As the Foreign Secretary noted this morning, we have been encouraged by the international support we have received to date. More than 20 countries across 6 continents have expressed their solidarity with us and we will continue to work with our European partners and allies around the world to tackle the threat posed by Russia to our collective security.

  • Novichok is a nerve agent, which meets the Chemical Weapon Convention’s (CWC) definition of a chemical weapon, toxic chemical and precursor. Thus it is covered by the Convention’s prohibitions.
  • The chemical was positively identified by world-leading experts at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, which is one of the accredited and designated labs in the OPCW laboratory network.
  • Russia is the official successor state to the USSR. As such, Russia legally took responsibility for ensuring the CWC applies to all former Soviet Chemical Weapons stocks and facilities.
  • Members of the Convention must declare chemical weapons stockpiles and facilities and destroy Chemical Weapons within ten years of the convention coming into force for that party. In 1997, the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force for Russia and solidified Russian commitments to chemical weapons disarmament and non-proliferation.
  • Developing, stockpiling and using chemical weapons are all a breach of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

British Businesses Take Centre Stage On Asia’s Top E-Tailers

British businesses to get free advertising on Asia’s top e-commerce platforms for a week thanks to a pioneering deal by the Department for International Trade

Shopping is Great

Shopping is Great

Three China and Hong Kong based e-tailers – ttHigo, Goxip, and MyMM – have agreed to run free banner advertising promoting British goods on their platforms as part of the GREAT Festival of Innovation. Together, they have a combined potential audience of 720 million internet users across China and Hong Kong meaning British businesses could reach millions of potential new customers.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) is amplifying these campaigns to Asian consumers across digital channels, highlighting a host of sectors where British firms lead the way.

One hundred and sixty-four leading British brands in fashion, beauty, homeware and general consumer merchandise are benefitting from this initiative, including British fashion designers such as Victoria Beckham and Vivienne Westwood to Waitrose and Wool and the Gang.

The week-long campaign will be timed to coincide with the upcoming GREAT Festival of Innovation in Hong Kong (21 to 24 March), which will showcase the best of Britain to Asia. Several hundred of the UK’s most creative business and institutions will attend, with a packed programme examining how innovation and technology will change the way we live, play, and learn in the future.

International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox, said:

As an international economic department, we are putting British businesses in a position to benefit from the opportunities that global markets provide and the GREAT Festival of Innovation in Hong Kong next week is just one example of this.

Demand for the UK’s quality goods and services in key international markets is already growing and as we look to create our own independent trade policy for the first time in over 40 years our businesses stand ready to flourish.

At the GREAT festival of innovation, UK businesses will have the chance to meet with Asian counterparts to discuss possible trade and investment opportunities.

And the advertising deal will build on recent positive Office for National Statistics trade figures which show that trade in goods and services between the UK and Hong Kong reached £19.6bn in 2017, up 15.1% from 2016.

DIT’s E-Exporting Programme helps UK retailers and brands to accelerate their global growth via e-commerce. It supports UK businesses by partnering with marketplaces to deliver online promotions, raising awareness for British exporters selling products on these platforms.

One UK business benefitting from the campaign is Little Butterfly London, a multi-award winning mother and baby beauty brand founded in 2015. Working with DIT on their export plans for the last 2 years, the brand has rapidly grown in overseas markets, including the US, Middle East, and Asia.

Gudrun Wurm, Founder and Director of Little Butterfly London, said:

Asia has been a fantastic market for us – consumers there really appreciate that our products are made in the UK, are high quality and organic certified.

We currently sell our products on various platforms including MyMM’s mobile commerce app and we are delighted to be receiving increased brand awareness through the UK Government’s GREAT campaign. We look forward to seeing more traction as a result of the advertising.

John Steere, President of MyMM, said:

We very much look forward to promoting UK brands among Chinese consumers as part of the GREAT Festival of Innovation. MyMM are delighted to be supporting an event which demonstrates UK excellence and seeks to drive future prosperity for UK exporters by strengthening trade links between the UK and Asia.

To complement their online campaign, ttHigo, a Chinese marketplace owned by Newegg, will run a networking session at the GREAT Festival of Innovation, as well as a global seller event for over 200 attendees in Huangzhou.


Further information

The E-Exporting Programme

DIT’s E-Exporting Programme helps UK companies to accelerate their global growth through e-commerce. The programme provides access to the Selling Online Overseas tool on It’s a free-to-use, online service that allows businesses to click, connect, prepare and sell on global marketplaces such as MyMM, Goxip and ttHigo. The tool provides access to discounts and benefits, including reduced commissions and special marketing packages.

The GREAT Festival of Innovation

The Great Festival of Innovation Hong Kong will be the third of its kind, following successful events in Istanbul (2014) and Shanghai (2015). Its vision is to create long-term partnerships that drive the future of free trade and prosperity between the UK and Asia.

Several hundred invited delegates will attend the Hong Kong event, which takes place at the Asia Society Hong Kong Centre and will feature more than 60 panels and events over its 4 days. For more information, please visit or follow the hashtag #GREATinnovation.

The Department for International Trade

The UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT) has overall responsibility for promoting UK trade across the world and attracting foreign investment to our economy. We are a specialised government body with responsibility for negotiating international trade policy, supporting business, as well as delivering an outward-looking trade diplomacy strategy.

The GREAT Campaign

The GREAT Britain campaign is the government’s most ambitious international marketing campaign ever, and showcases the very best of what Britain has to offer. It aims to encourage audiences to visit, study, invest in and do business with the UK, generating jobs and growth at home. The campaign has delivered £2.7 billion of benefit to the UK economy to date, with a further £2.6 billion in the pipeline and has been commended by the National Audit Office.

War Is On The Horizon

Op-Ed Contributor

Paul Craig Roberts

Paul Craig Roberts

Have Washington and its British vassal set a stage for testing whether Russia has the stomach for war?

How else do we interpret the announcement by General Sergey Rudskoy, chief of the Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff, that “we have reliable information at our disposal that US instructors have trained a number of militant groups in the vicinity of the town of At-Tanf, to stage provocations involving chemical warfare agents in southern Syria. They are preparing a series of chemical munitions explosions. This fact will be used to blame the government forces. The components to produce chemical munitions have been already delivered to the southern de-escalation zone under the guise of humanitarian convoys of a number of NGOs. The provocations will be used as a pretext by the United States and its allies to launch strikes on military and government infrastructure in Syria.”

Don’t expect to hear anything about this in the totally discredited Western presstitute media, which is a propaganda ministry for war.

The Russian government must be kicking itself that it again failed to finish the job in Syria and instead permitted Washington to expand its Syrian presence, arm and train its mercenaries, provide chemical weapons, and assemble its fleet to attack Syrian forces in order to prevent their reconquest of Syrian territory.

The question before us is: If the information that General Rudskoy cited is correct, what will Russia do? Will Russia use its missile defences and air superiority to shoot down the US missiles and aircraft, or will Russia accept the attack and again denounce the illegality of Washington’s action and protest to the UN?

If Russia accepts the attack, Washington will push harder. Sooner or later Russia will be unable to accept another push, and war will break out.

If war breaks out, will it be a limited conventional war or will Washington use the excuse to launch nuclear ICBMs against Russia? These questions must be going through the minds of Russia’s leadership. Russia faces the grave danger that Washington’s Fifth Column inside Russia, the Alanticist Integrationists, those Russians in the political and business leadership who believe Russia must be, at all costs, integrated into the Western world, will lock the government in indecision and expose Russia to a nuclear first strike.

So far Russia has continued to defeat itself by playing according to the rules of diplomacy and international law despite the obvious fact that Washington has no respect for either. During the past week, Washington’s British vassal, a country of no military or political significance, demonstrated total contempt for Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. In other words, the insult to Russia came from a mere vassal state of Washington’s empire. An alleged poisoning by an alleged Russian nerve gas, the very existance of which is doubted by US and UK experts, of an inconsequential former spy and his daugher has been blamed, without a shred of evidence, on Russia by the British prime minister, defense minister, and foreign minister.

The British prime minister violated law and agreements to which Britain is partner by giving Russia 24 hours to respond to an accusation for which no evidence was provided. Law and the agreements require that the country making an accusation share the evidence with the accused country, which has 10 days to assess the evidence and reply. The British government refused to abide by the agreement to which it is partner. Moreover, the British foreign minister Boris Johnson personally accused Russia’s President Putin of ording the attempted murder of the inconsequential spy. For more information on the former spy and his lack of consequence and the absurdity of the orchestrated event, see recent postings on my website.

Not content with the unprecedented insult to Russia and its President, the British defense minister of a country that has no capability whatsoever of defending itself against Russia, even with its leige lord’s help, said in response to Russia’s rejection of the unsupported-by-any-evidence charge that “Russia should shut up and go away.”

This was too much for the Russian Ministry of Defense. General Igor Konashenkov replied:

“The rhetoric of an uncouth shrew demonstrated by the Head of the British Ministry of Defense makes his utter intellectual impotence perfectly evident. All this confirms not only the nullity of all accusations towards Russia we have been hearing from London for the last several years but also that the ‘accusers’ themselves are nonentities.

“The ‘Great’ Britain has long turned not only into a cozy nest for defectors from all over the world but also into a hub for all sorts of fake news-producing agencies: from the British ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’ to the created by a British intelligence officer pseudo-Syrian ‘White Helmets’.

“As to boorish words of the British Defense Minister regarding Russia, it seems that in the absence of the real results of professional activity, rudeness is the only weapon remaining in the arsenal of the Her Majesty’s Military.”

Note the total dismissal of ‘Great’ Britain by the Russian Ministry of Defence as a military and political power. From the Russian military’s standpoint Washington’s British vassal state is a total nonentity. This suggests that the Russian military is focused on Washington and is unlikely to tolerate Washington’s agents in Russian government and business circles if they attempt to leave Russia exposed by indecision.

Perhaps the Russians will decide it is past time for them to demonstrate their superior military capabilities, and they will take out not only the US missiles and airplanes but also the fleets from which the attack is launched while putting their nuclear forces on high alert. What then would Washington do? Can a government composed of bullies drunk on hubris come to a sensible decision, or would people so arrogant as to think themselves “exceptional” and “indispensable” condemn the world, including the plants, animals, birds, and all creatures who have no idea of the murderous lunatics that rule the Western world, to death?

There is no greater threat to life on earth than Washington. Constraining Washington’s determination to destroy life on earth is the greatest challenge humanity has faced. If we fail, we all die, every one of us and all creatures.

Despite Russia’s military superiority, the humanity of the Russian government places it at a disadvantage as there is no concern for humanity in Washington.

Salisbury Attack: Statement Following British Ambassador’s Meeting With Russian Government

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

An FCO Spokesperson said:

Our Ambassador in Moscow has just been informed by the Russian government that they will expel 23 diplomats, close the British Consulate-General in St Petersburg and close the British Council in Moscow.

This follows the action we have taken, alongside other measures, to dismantle the Russian espionage network operating in the UK as a consequence of the attempted assassination of two people here in Britain using a nerve agent.

In light of Russia’s previous behaviour, we anticipated a response of this kind and the National Security Council will meet early next week to consider next steps. Our priority today is looking after our staff in Russia and assisting those that will return to the UK.

Russia’s response doesn’t change the facts of the matter – the attempted assassination of two people on British soil, for which there is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian State was culpable. It is Russia that is in flagrant breach of international law and the Chemical Weapons Convention.

We have no disagreement with the people of Russia and we continue to believe it is not in our national interest to break off all dialogue between our countries but the onus remains on the Russian state to account for their actions and to comply with their international obligations.

Britain Needs Its Allies To Stand With Us Against Russia

Op-Ed Contributor

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is making his second visit to Burma

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is making his second visit to Burma

We have a tradition in Britain that any town with a cathedral becomes a city. Salisbury won that title nearly 800 years ago, thanks to the magnificent cathedral that still dominates its streets.

So you can imagine Britain’s sense of revulsion – indeed of violation – over the fact that a tranquil medieval city has witnessed the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since World War II.

As I write, the principal target, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia, are both in critical condition. A police officer who went to their aid is also in the hospital. About three dozen others required medical treatment simply because they were nearby when the substance was released.

It was only down to chance that more people are not lying stricken today; the perpetrators clearly did not care how many innocents were endangered. What sticks in my mind is the cavalier indifference – and sheer brazenness – of this attack.

Our experts have identified the weapon used in Salisbury on March 4 as a fourth-generation nerve agent known as Novichok, designed to play havoc with the central nervous system and inflict a lingering death.

Russian scientists developed Novichok starting in the 1970s. Today, only Russia combines a record of state-sponsored assassinations with a publicly avowed motive for trying to kill Sergei Skripal and stockpiles of Novichok agents.

On Monday, I summoned the Russian ambassador and gave his government 36 hours to inform us if any of these stocks had somehow gone missing.

I regret to say that the deadline passed without a response from the Kremlin. The British government has drawn the only plausible conclusion: that the Russian state attempted murder in a British city, employing a lethal nerve agent banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention.

On Wednesday, Theresa May, the Prime Minister, announced the biggest expulsion of Russian diplomats from Britain for more than 30 years, evicting 23 undeclared intelligence officers. The government will now take a range of measures to protect Britain from hostile states and dismantle the Russian espionage network in our country.

But this matter goes far beyond a bilateral dispute. If the Russian state is prepared to deploy a banned weapon in a British city – amounting to the unlawful use of force against the United Kingdom – then the Kremlin is clearly willing to act without restraint. The bleak truth is that what happened in Salisbury could have happened anywhere.

I interpret this incident as part of a pattern of reckless behavior by President Vladimir Putin. The common thread that joins the poisonings in Salisbury with the annexation of Crimea, the cyberattacks in Ukraine, the hacking of Germany’s Parliament and Russian interference in foreign elections is the Kremlin’s reckless defiance of essential international rules.

Most tellingly of all, Russia has made immense efforts to conceal the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime in Syria. In October, an international investigation concluded that Bashar al-Assad’s forces had used the nerve agent sarin against the town of Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017.

Yet instead of condemning Assad, Russia covered up for him by vetoing the renewal of the international inquiry and, in effect, forcing it to shut down.

How much easier does it become for a state to deploy chemical weapons when its government has already tolerated and sought to hide their use by others? I would draw a connection between Putin’s indulgence of Assad’s atrocities in Syria and the Russian state’s evident willingness to employ a chemical weapon on British soil.

There is a reason for choosing Novichok. In its blatant Russian-ness, the nerve agent sends a signal to all who may be thinking of dissent in the intensifying repression of Putin’s Russia. The message is clear: We will find you, we will catch you, we will kill you – and though we will deny it with lip-curling scorn, the world will know beyond doubt that Russia did it.

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia has a special obligation to uphold the rules of good international conduct. When it does the opposite and tramples upon these rules, the Kremlin threatens the very architecture of global security.

All responsible nations share an obligation to take a principled stance against this behavior. The countermeasures announced by the Prime Minister are not solely about the attack in Salisbury. Britain is striving to uphold the rules on which the safety of every country depends. I hope and believe that our friends will stand alongside us.

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