Over the weekend, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov created quite a stir when he announced that the independent Swiss state Spiez lab said that Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent, and his daughter Yulia, were poisoned with an incapacitating toxin known as 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate, or simply BZ, adding that while the toxin was never produced in Russia, it was in service in the US, UK and other NATO states.
However, as RT reports, Andreas Bucher, Spiez Laboratory’s strategy and communications head, told TASS on Monday, that:
“We cannot have any statement on that…”
“We are contractually bound to the OPCW for confidentiality. So, the only institution that could confirm what Mr. Lavrov was saying is the OPCW. We cannot confirm or deny anything.”
The Swiss state research center is controlled by the country’s Federal Office for Civil Protection and, ultimately, by the defense minister.
As we noted previously, the Swiss lab is also an internationally recognized center of excellence in the field of the nuclear, biological, and chemical protection and is one of the five centers permanently authorized by the OPCW.
Asked to clarify the relationship between the OPCW and the Spiez lab, as well as between the OPCW and the UK military research facility at Porton Down, a spokesperson for the OPCW told RT in a written statement on Monday that:
“…designated laboratories are a lynchpin of the Organization’s verification regime and its capacity to investigate allegations of the use of chemical weapons. They must be able to perform off-site analysis of chemical samples collected by OPCW inspectors from chemical production facilities, storage depots and other installations, or from the site of an alleged use of chemical weapons. These laboratories offer the necessary assurance to our States Parties that chemical analyses needed to make determinations or to clarify issues occurring during OPCW deployments are carried out competently, impartially, and with unambiguous results.”
“OPCW does not disclose the identity of designated labs that contribute to OPCW activities. These labs are also bound by secrecy agreements. These arrangements exist to ensure the integrity of the analysis and results provided by the designated labs,“ the statement added.
Moscow has repeatedly noted that the Skripal case lacks transparency.
“We get the impression that the British government is deliberately pursuing the policy of destroying all possible evidence, classifying all remaining materials and making a transparent investigation impossible,” the Russian ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, said during a press conference on Friday.