Czech PM denies Novichok production
PRAGUE – Agence France-Presse
The Czech prime minister yesterday denied claims by the country’s pro-Russian president that it had produced Novichok, the substance Britain says was used to poison a former Russian spy on its soil.
“The Czech Republic has never produced, developed or stored any Novichok-type substance,” billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babis tweeted, citing civilian and military intelligence reports.
President Milos Zeman, a veteran leftwinger known for his loyalty to the Kremlin, also cited a Czech intelligence report last week to claim that Prague had produced the Novichok nerve agent that was allegedly used to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter in an English city in March.
The government of the Czech Republic, a NATO and EU member state, had in March rejected an allegation by Moscow that it had produced the poison.
Yesterday, Babis’s office said in a statement that Prague had produced tiny amounts of Novichok A-230 in 2017 as part of a military program aimed at protecting the army and civilians.
The Czech foreign ministry said on May 4 Friday this “micro-synthesis” process is not regarded as production under international agreements, and noted that the substance was immediately destroyed.
The statement said Zeman’s claims had resulted from a “misunderstanding.”