Saturday, 18 August, 2018

Poisonings: Nerve agent tests prove United Kingdom was right

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May greets Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Downing Street in central London Britain REUTERS Stefan Wermuth May Thanks Poroshenko for Expulsion of Russian Diplomats Over Skripal Case
Melinda Barton | 15 April, 2018, 21:45

The worldwide chemical weapons watchdog has confirmed the UK's analysis of the type of nerve agent used in the Russian ex-spy poisoning.

"Already politicians like Boris Johnson are once again trying to distort the truth and announce that the OPCW statement supports Britain's conclusions without exception", Sergei Lavrov said.

The chemical weapon used in Salisbury was of "high purity", the watchdog said.

But it states that its analysis of biomedical and environmental samples collected by its inspectors "confirm the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury".

Britain named it as Novichok, a group of powerful and deadly chemical compounds reportedly developed by the Soviet government in the 1970s and 1980s.

In announcement made on Tuesday, the Medial Director of Salisbury General Hospital Dr Christine Blanshard, confirmed that the 33 year old daughter of former Russian agent Sergei Skripal, was released in good health.

The findings were welcomed by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who said they backed Britain's assertion that only Russian Federation could have carried out the attack in March.

"Only Russia has the means, motive and record", he said. Britain has blamed Russian Federation for the attempted murder - a charge that Moscow has strongly denied. "The use of weapons of this kind can never be justified, and must be ended", he said.

There are several variants of Novichok, a binary weapon containing two less toxic chemicals that, when mixed, react to produce a poison several times more lethal than sarin or VX.

Skripal was a former Russian intelligence officer who acted as a double agent for MI6 and was caught, imprisoned, then pardoned and sent to Britain in a spy swap in 2010. "At the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services, but, if I change my mind I know how to contact them", she said.

National security adviser Sir Mark Sedwill said cyber specialists from the GRU - Russian military intelligence - targeted Yulia Skripal's email accounts as far back as 2013.

Russia's ambassador to the, Alexander Yakovenko, dismissed the charges Friday as unfounded and untrue. "With no possibility to verify it, the publication by the Metropolitan Police raises new questions rather than gives answers", according to the embassy on its website.

The Russian embassy in London cast doubt on the authenticity of Yulia Skripal's statement, saying it indicates the UK's "forcible isolation of the Russian citizen".

In the statement published on Wednesday, she said her father remained seriously ill and that she was still suffering from the effects of nerve agent used against them.