UK Intelligence agencies acknowledge ‘feasibility’ of Covid lab leak theory
In a significant development reported by both The Times
and The Daily Mirror
, sources with Britain’s intelligence community have acknowledged that the possibility of the Covid-19 virus being the result of a leak from the People’s Liberation Army-controlled laboratory Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The revelation, which as per The Daily Mirror
has already elicited a concurring United States’ (US) response, is expected to amplify international calls for greater transparency on Beijing’s end regarding the origins of the disease. Indeed, thus-far ambivalent New Zealand’s call for a global investigation
into the origins of Covid-19 during the recent meeting between Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison, prime ministers of New Zealand and Australia, respectively, demonstrates that the revelations by British intelligence services have made ripples already.
Iran and Russia warn the UK
Following meetings between Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, and Israeli and Palestinian leaders amid the fragile ceasefire holding between the two sides, The Tehran Times
, a broadsheet reportedly close to Iran’s regime, has reported comments by Saeed Khatibzadeh, Spokesperson at the Iranian Foreign Ministry, warning Raab and Anthony Blinken, US Secretary of State, against ‘spinning the goals of the Vienna talks’ by ‘placating’ Israel, declaring Tel-Aviv ‘the sworn enemy of the JCPOA’.
In the same week, Russian state-owned news agency TASS
reported Maria Zakharova, Spokesperson at the Russian Foreign Ministry, criticising the UK regarding the possibility of British sanctions against the NordStream II gas pipeline in response to the forced landing of a passenger jet by Belarussian authorities at the behest of Moscow, lashing out at Whitehall’s apparent ‘Russophobia’.
Both responses reflect the flutter that Britain has caused in both capitals as a consequence of its activities in two regions that both nations believe exist within their respective spheres of influence. It bears further testimony to the increased power of Britain’s discursive statecraft
during an era of intensifying geopolitical competition.
Foreign Secretary to decide the fate of Venezuelan gold in British coffers
has reported that as per a recent verdict by the UK’s Supreme Court, Raab has been delegated with the responsibility of deciding the fate of £1.4 billion worth of Venezuelan gold currently deposited with the Bank of England. The past year has seen a high-profile legal battle over possession of these gold reserves between the Central Bank of Venezuela (BCV) and the Juan Guaido-led government-in-exile recognised by the UK, the US and the EU. Guaido, as the British-recognised interim president, claims possession of the gold, a claim disputed by the Venezuelan regime and the BCV in British courts.
The verdict effectively sets the stage for post-Brexit Britain’s Latin America policy. Whichever decision the Foreign Secretary takes, the side eventually favoured will benefit considerably with consequences for geopolitics in not just Venezuela but much of South America.