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Zeman: Novichok was produced, tested, destroyed in ČR

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Prague, May 3 (CTK) – The Novichok nerve agent, which was behind the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, was in a small quantity produced and tested in Czech Republic, then it was destroyed, President Milos Zeman said on Thursday.

Zeman said his information was based on a report drafted by the Military Counter-intelligence (MZ), saying that the agent denoted as A230, produced for testing purposes by the Military Research Institute in Brno, was Novichok.

The civilian BIS counter-intelligence has arrived at the conclusion that the gas was not Novichok, Zeman said.

He said after studying the reports of both secret services he had preferred the view presented by the MZ.

“There is the conclusion that Novichok was produced and tested here, though in a small quantity and then it was destroyed,” Zeman said.

“It is hypocritical to pretend that this was not so,” he added.

Russia claims that Novichok could have originated from the Czech Republic.

The Czech government, including Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO), military experts and the Institute for Nuclear Security said earlier the Novichok had never been produced in the Czech Republic.

In March, the Czech Republic expelled three diplomats from the Russian embassy in Prague together with their families in reaction to the attack.

In this connection, Zeman asked secret services to look for the origin of Novichok in the Czech Republic.

He said it arose from his findings that last November, the A230 agent had been tested in the the Military Research Institute in Brno.

Zeman said the Czech MZ had explicitly denoted the agent as Novichok, while BIS and the nuclear security experts say the Novichok with which Skripal was poisoned was the substance denoted as A234.

Zeman said the quantity of the poison produced in the Brno institute was small and it was destroyed after the testing.

The Czech Republic has an excellent chemical warfare unit and this is why the testing of hazardous substances was understandable and necessary, he added.

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