Chemical weapons watchdog to meet on poisoned ex-spy case

Apr 04, 2018, 01:43
Chemical weapons watchdog to meet on poisoned ex-spy case

Britain has said it is "highly likely" that Moscow was responsible for an attempt to poison former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the quiet English city of Salisbury on Mar 4.

Speaking to Sky News on Tuesday, Gary Aitkenhead, chief executive of Porton Down laboratory said the poisonous substance used to carry out the attack was the military-grade nerve agent Novichok but said scientists did not identify where it was manufactured.

He further claimed to provide scientific information to the government to help reach to some conclusion. "We're reviewing our options", said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, who charged that the attack on the Skripals violated an global chemical weapons ban.

On Tuesday, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said it would hold an emergency meeting on the case Wednesday at its headquarters in The Hague at the request of Russian Federation, which is demanding Britain hand over its evidence.

Aitkenhead said there is "no way" the nerve agent could have come from the high-security facility.

"Russia's response was not unanticipated and the will deal with it", the White House said in a statement without elaborating.

"We need to respond in a proportionate way to this aggressive behavior from Russian Federation and that's what we're doing", the spokesman said when asked if there was a real risk of triggering a war.

"As the Prime Minister has said, we must face the facts, and the challenge of Russian Federation is one that will endure for years to come".

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Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Skripal's poisoning was "in the UK's interests" and accused the West of playing "children's games".

Russian Federation requested the meeting and has demanded an "unbiased investigation" by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Chizhov says "Russia clearly had no motive" to attack Skripal, who was convicted of spying for Britain but freed in a 2010 spy swap.

"We are witnessing obvious prevention of access for Russian representatives to Russian victims", she said. "If there was any hint that anything that we have would be leaving our four walls, then we wouldn't be allowed to operate".

A top Russian diplomat says the nerve agent poisoning of a former Russian spy may have been arranged by Britain to justify military spending.

European Union nations, the United States and other Western countries joined Britain in expelling more than 150 Russian diplomats, and Russia has responded by kicking out a similar number of Western envoys, and even more in Britain's case.

Former double agent Skripal, who has lived in Britain since a spy swap in 2010, and his daughter have been in hospital since March 4 after the poisoning that London and its major Western allies have blamed on Russian Federation.

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