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A central implication of the `accident or suicide' claim is that, if it is true, the conventional wisdom according to which polonium was only identified immediately prior to Litvinenko's death is a charade:  that MI6 must have known that polonium was the likely toxin from the time they first learnt about his being taken ill.  

This may be false, but could be true.  It is difficult to continue simply dismissing such suggestions from Lugovoi, given that his claim that Litvinenko worked for MI6 was contemptuously repudiated for years, before being abruptly conceded by his widow in October 2011.  

In this connection, a cable from the U.S. Paris Embassy disclosed by WikiLeaks, which reports a conversation between the Russian special presidential representative Anatoliy Safonov and U.S. ambassador-at-large Henry Crumpton on 7 December 2006, is of interest.

The Guardian report opens:

Russia was tracking the assassins of dissident spy Alexander Litvinenko before he was poisoned but was warned off by Britain, which said the situation was "under control", according to claims made in a leaked US diplomatic cable.

What the cable actually said was:

Safonov claimed that Russian authorities in London had known about and followed individuals moving radioactive substances into the city but were told by the British that they were under control before the poisoning took place.

This illustrates my point about the problems of Manichean perspectives.  The Guardian simply assumes that the only reason why polonium could have been being smuggled into London is to assassinate Litvinenko, and accordingly sees fit to attribute to Safonov an assertion he never made - which it then goes on to dismiss as ridiculous.

All we know is that Safonov claimed that the Russian authorities in London knew about a nuclear smuggling operation and told the British.  Again, this may be false, but it could be true.  The claim would, obviously, fit in very well with the possible scenarios for how the polonium came to be smuggled into London which arise out of the evidence from Italy.  What Safonov suggests happened is what one might well expect, if either the Russians had got wind of an operation designed to frame them as nuclear smugglers, or had staged an operation designed to frame Litvinenko and his Chechen associates.

by djhabakkuk (david daught habakkuk at o two daught co daught uk) on Wed Dec 12th, 2012 at 08:15:59 AM EST
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