The US State Department is willing to adopt a new sanctions package against Russia over the Skripal case. According to Christopher Ford, US Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, the United States is actively considering a second, more draconian round of sanctions.
"The second round of sanctions under the statue is a more draconian menu than the first round. There is a menu of options if you will, things that need to be considered. As part of that, we do not have an inter-agency decision answer on what those pieces are yet. It is under active consideration," Ford said.
The United States accused Russia of involvement in the March 4 nerve agent attack on Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury and required guarantees not to use chemical and biological weapons in the future. However, in all that time the US never made a loud demand for evidence of the involvement of Russia and the results of the investigation.
Instead, Western nations considered Theresa May’s ‘highly likely’ as an enough argument to accuse Russia of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal. There were many versions of who besides Russia could know the chemical formula for Novichok and develop it?
More than 20 years ago Western researchers got access to nerve agents of the Novichok class, Algemeen Handelsblad and Der Spiegel report.
According to Der Spiegel, a Russian scientist who wanted to emigrate to the West brought two ampoules of the Novichok nerve agent to Sweden in 1997. The deal was organised by the Federal Intelligence Service of Germany. The samples were tested in the Swedish Defence Research Agency in Umeå. The results were shared with other institutes in Germany, the US, the UK, Canada, France and Netherlands particularly TNO in Rijswijk.
Dutch scientists confirmed to Algemeen Handelsblad the presence of the mass spectrum of A-234 formula in the NIST 98 database. Dennis Rohrbaugh, an officer of the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical and Biological Defense Command had made that record. But the next editions of the database contained no information about the substance, the data was deleted.
In 2016 a group of Iranian researchers succeeded in synthesising a number of lesser known agents of the Novichok class. The article with all diagrams by Hosseini & al. appeared in the Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry journal.
However, neither Western nations nor the UK took interest in this information. Given the fact that the UK and other European countries had the chemical formula for Novichok it becomes clear why Britain's allies expressed solidarity with London after the poisoning of Skripal. Not only Russia could make Novichok nerve agent.
If the Skripals were really poisoned by Novichok, this is the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons which is responsible for the Salisbury incident initially. The OPCW didn’t put Novichok on the list of banned substances. OPCW experts tried to decline all responsibility for the Skripal case. “There is no record of the Novichok group of nerve agents having been declared by a state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention,” the OPCW said in a press release in March.
Why is the OPCW still inactive and why did it let information leak about A-234 formula? And if this connivance is dictated by political motives in the interests of certain countries, then the Chemical Weapons Convention requires revision.