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German secret service allegedly obtained sample of Novichok in 1990s

Europe   The A230 substance

A sample of Novichok, a military-grade nerve substance allegedly used to poison a Russian ex-spy and his daughter in Britain, was obtained by German secret service back in the 1990s, German media have reported.

According to German media such as Sueddeutsche Zeitung, NDR, WDR and Zeit, the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) and German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) had allegedly cooperated in negotiating the acquisition of the poison from a Russian defector scientist in the early 1990s.

The Russian scientist allegedly offered to reveal information about Novichok and even to bring a sample to Germany in exchange for a safe place of abode for himself and his family in exile, reports said.

Western countries, including the U.S. and Britain, have been aware of the chemical makeup of Novichok, German media reported following a joint investigation.

Novichok is considered to be one of the deadliest chemical agents ever produced by humans.

Reacting to the news, the German government and BND released a statement, saying that they could only provide such confidential information about "intelligence service matters" to the relevant parliamentary committees as a "matter of principle".

Britain has been claiming that Novichok was used in the poisoning of the Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter on March 4 in the southern English city of Salisbury.

Moscow denied any involvement. The Russia government also repeatedly said that there has never been any research and development or experimental work conducted as part of a program under the name of Novichok, while "the 'Novichok'-type nerve agents were in production in a number of countries".

Russian officials had named Western countries such as Sweden, the U.S., Britain and the Czech Republic which have enough technical capabilities to produce the nerve agent.

In early May, Czech President Milos Zeman said that according to a report provided by military intelligence, a nerve agent of the Novichok family was produced and tested in small quantity in the country.

Following Zeman's statement, the Czech defense ministry said within a defense program launched in 2017, a Czech military institute used microscopic amount of the A230 substance for testing.

The A230 substance is different from the A234 substance, which was allegedly used in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain in March, Czech government spokeswoman Barbora Peterova said.


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