Small amounts of the Novichok nerve agent were produced and stored in the Czech Republic, President Milos Zeman told Prague-based Barrandov television on Thursday.
“We did produce and store Novichok, though in insignificant amounts. We know where and when. Let us not be hypocritical. We should not lie about this,” the president said.
The head of state recently ordered the Czech Security Information Service (counterintelligence) to see if the type of the nerve agent used in the Salisbury poisoning could have been made in the Czech Republic. On March 17 Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on the Rossiya-24 television news channel that the nerve gas Britain was referring to as Novichok “most likely came from the countries that had been conducting intensive research into this group of chemicals since the late 1990s – Britain, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Sweden.
“Last year, in November, A-230 chemical was tested at the Defense Ministry’s research institute in the city of Brno. Its amount was insignificant. After the testing, it was [fully] destroyed,” Zeman said.
According to the Czech military intelligence, this substance is of the Novichok family. Milos Zeman agrees with the findings of the military intelligence.
Meanwhile, he sees nothing scandalous in the fact that insignificant amounts of a Novichok-type agent were produced and stored in the republic. “We have an excellent chemical defense unit, and it needs to study [toxic agents] to counteract them,” the president said.
On March 4, Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia suffered the effects of an alleged nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury. Claiming that the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, London rushed to accuse Russia of being involved in the incident. Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that a program aimed at developing such a substance had existed neither in the Soviet Union nor in Russia.