Russian spy poisoning: Nerve agent inspectors back UK

Laverne Higgins
April 15, 2018

"Mr. Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russian Federation", specifically from the Novichok group, British Prime Minister Theresa May said following an immediate assessment by British experts.

"Already politicians like Boris Johnson are once again trying to distort the truth and announce that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) statement supports Britain's conclusions without exception", Sergei Lavrov said.

Sedwill also said that Russian Federation has tested means of delivering chemical agents "including by application to door handles", pointing out that the highest concentration of the chemical found after the attack was on Skripal's front door handle.

The news which has been hailed as a significant milestone, comes just over a month after the pair were found slumped over on a park bench in the English city, after they were poisoned by a deadly nerve agent.

The UK says it has intelligence indicating that within the last decade, Russian Federation has investigated ways of delivering nerve agents probably for assassination - and as part of this programme produced and stockpiled small quantities of Novichoks.

The executive summary released by the OPCW does not directly name Novichok - the military grade nerve agent developed by Russian Federation, which the United Kingdom has said was used to poison former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia - or identify its source.

In his letter, Sir Mark set out why the Government believes that only Russian Federation has the "technical means, operational experience and the motive" to carry out such an attack. This included the hacking of Yulia Skripal's email accounts.

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"It is highly likely that Novichoks were developed to prevent detection by the West and to circumvent worldwide weapons controls", he said.

He said: "We want to meet Yulia and we want proof that she is alright and is in good condition".

Moscow has strongly denied responsibility and says Britain is waging a defamation campaign against it.

"Russia's chemical weapons programme continued after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The use of weapons of this kind can never be justified, and must be ended", he said. Maria Zakharova, spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, told reporters that the report was part of a continuing British plot against Russia. A police officer, Detective Sgt. Nick Bailey, who responded to the scene of the assault, was also hospitalized but has since been discharged.

Yakovenko said he had not seen the letter.

In a letter released by police this week, she said she was still suffering from the effects of the poisoning and was "seeking to come to terms with my prospects, while also recovering from this attack on me".

Refuting claims by the Russian embassy in London that she had been kidnapped by Britain, she said she was safe and could speak freely.

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