A European country that has once again banned any non-citizen entry has found a replacement biological weapon from Russia that scientists have warned poses the most serious threat to national security in many years.
Russia has been accused of involvement in the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England, a charge it has denied.
British and U.S. intelligence officials have said that a nerve agent developed by the Russian military laboratory at Porton Down was used in the attack. The families of the victims have been allowed to come to the U.K. but not the suspects.
According to a report from the BBC, a new variant of the chemical warfare agent “Covid-19” has been identified by the U.K. government.
[ABOVE: Anti-Russian protesters hold posters after Russia released a new version of an ‘imminent threat’ chemical weapon.]
In a statement, the U.K.’s Security Minister Ben Wallace told MPs, “Any form of chemical weapon, be it nerve agent or otherwise is a significant security threat and an imminent threat,” in Parliament on Tuesday. “This confirms again why we need to ensure a security perimeter around Porton Down.”
Scientists in the U.K. who are working with the National Biological Emergency Coordination Centre have told a Sky News producer that the new variant uses a “next generation” chemical weapon. They said that they found a high number of mutations in the previous variants and now estimate that the newer variety could kill about 100,000 people. The previous batch was able to kill just 16.
One scientist said that this new strain is the deadliest threat since a similar one in the 1980s. He estimated that such a weapon could kill about 250,000 people worldwide and stop almost 7.5 million deaths annually.
So far, there is no evidence that Moscow has produced the chemical weapon, or even knows how it works.
Russia has been accused of developing a nerve agent. The discovery of the toxin used in the attack on the Skripals is known as Novichok. (This is the brand name for the compound). A British scientist reportedly spilled the beans on Novichok in public. Former double agent Sergei Skripal was granted asylum by the U.K. in 2010.
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has a plan in place to react to another chemical attack. Some scientists agree that it should include a ban on all sources of the Novichok nerve agent, an emergency ban on weapons and chemicals used to break up space rocks and other objects, and increased aerial and land surveillance.
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