Tuesday, 24 April, 2018

United Kingdom scientists unable to identify Russian Federation as source for nerve agent

Skripal scene GETTY SALISBURY Gas mask wearing police investigate the poisoning of the Skripals
| 04 April, 2018, 01:49

The head of Britain's military research center said on Tuesday it was unable yet to say whether the military-grade nerve agent that poisoned a Russian double-agent last month had been produced in Russia.

Scientists at the U.K's Porton Down lab have identified the poison as a Soviet-developed type of nerve agent known as Novichok, and the British government says the only plausible explanation is that it came from Russian Federation.

"We have not identified the precise source, but we have provided the scientific info to government who have then used a number of other sources to piece together the conclusions you have come to", Aitkenhead said.

Aitkenhead said Tuesday that the attack with a highly toxic Novichok nerve agent was "probably only within the capabilities of a state actor". "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.

In a statement released Tuesday, the OPCW confirmed that its Executive Council had received the request from the Russian representative to the group and that, "the confidential meeting will start at 10.00 am (0400 Eastern) at the OPCW's headquarters in The Hague". The nerve agent had been placed on Sergei Skripal's front door, police said.

Speaking to the BBC Sir Tony said: "What we have is not a Putin problem, what we have is a Russian Federation problem".

British military scientists identified the nerve agent used to poison ex-spy Sergei Skripal was Novichok, but have not verified where exactly it was made.

The Trump administration claimed the expelled diplomats are Russian intelligence agents, and insisted their departure would make the U.S. more secure.

Russian Federation has denied responsibility for the poisoning, and condemned the USA and U.K.'s responses to the attack.


Putin said there were 20 countries that could manufacture the nerve agent, adding he was "surprised at the speed with which the anti-Russian campaign was promoted and accelerated".

Putin reaffirmed that Russia wanted to take part in the investigation, noting that the victims of the poisoning - Skripal and his daughter Yulia - were both Russian nationals.

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".

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

"There is no way anything like that could have come from us or left the four walls of our facility", he said.

He said: "It is our job to provide the scientific evidence of what this particular nerve agent is, we identified that it is from this particular family and that it is a military grade, but it is not our job to say where it was manufactured".

British officials have previously rejected similar Russian allegations.

His comments come a day before an extraordinary meeting - called by Russian Federation - with the world's chemical weapons watchdog, the executive council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

On Saturday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Facebook that more than 50 diplomats and staff members of the United Kingdom diplomatic mission in Russia would have to return to the United Kingdom in order to maintain the parity in the number of diplomatic personnel of the two countries.

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