Published: Sun, April 15, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Watchdog confirms UK findings on nerve agent used on Russian spy

Watchdog confirms UK findings on nerve agent used on Russian spy

The Kremlin has denied any role in the March 4th attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who were found unconscious on a park bench in Salisbury, a cathedral city in Wiltshire, some 78 miles southwest of London.

United Kingdom inspectors from the defence research facility at Porton Down in Wiltshire first identified the nerve agent as belonging to the Novichok group.

Russian Federation has strongly denied any involvement, and insists it has destroyed all of its chemical weapons.

But the release of the previously highly classified information will cast fresh doubts over Russia's denials. Novichok (Russian for "newcomer") was originally developed and created by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 80s.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is expected to announce the results of its investigation into the attack this week, but will stop short of identifying the source.

He said that it included investigating ways of delivering nerve agents by applying them to door handles.

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The Times reported on Wednesday that Ms Skripal had refused consular help from the Russian Embassy.

Earlier on Friday, the national security adviser to Britain's prime minister told NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a letter that email accounts of Yulia had been targeted in 2013 by cyber specialists from Russia's GRU military intelligence service.

Moscow strongly dismissed these charges, saying that neither the Soviet Union nor Russian Federation had ever had programs for research into this substance.

'We would like to make sure that the statement really belongs to Yulia, ' the embassy said.

He said Russian Federation developed some Novichoks even after ratifying the convention. "In the mid-2000s, President Putin was closely involved in the Russian chemical weapons programme".

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

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He said that after the Soviet Union collapsed, Russian Federation signed the Chemical Weapons Convention without reporting its ongoing work on Novichoks.

But Mr Sedwill's letter suggested the nerve agent used was most likely to have been made at a laboratory in Shikhany, near Volgograd, a branch of the State Institute for Organic Chemistry and Technology.

"It is highly likely that Novichoks were developed to prevent detection by the West and to circumvent global chemical weapons controls", Sir Mark wrote.

"There is no plausible alternative explanation".

In recent weeks, British authorities - along with roughly two dozen countries, including the USA - have expelled scores of Russian diplomats in retaliation.

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".

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Making a specific reference to her Russia-based cousin, Viktoria, she said that "her opinions and assertions are not mine and they are not my father's".

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