Ex-spy poisoning row: Britain unable to identify source of nerve agent

05 April, 2018, 00:51 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • The Salisbury road where Mr Skripal lives and where he is believed to have been poisoned at his front door remained closed off by police today

Accusations and recriminations between Britain and Russian Federation are set to escalate with the news that scientists at the Porton Down military research facility have been unable to establish exactly where the novichok nerve agent used to carry out the Skripal attack was manufactured.

'1) Porton Down identified nerve agent as military grade Novichok; 2) Russian Federation has investigated delivering nerve agents, likely for assassination, & as part of this programme has produced and stockpiled small quantities of Novichoks; 3) Russian Federation has motive for targeting Sergei Skripal.

Mrs May's conclusion that it was "highly likely" to have come from Russian Federation was based on "a number of other sources", he said.

Aitkenhead added that while his lab - better known as Porton Down after its secretive site in southern England - has been tasked with examining the chemical, "it's not our job to then see where it was actually manufactured".

Boris Johnson has attacked Jeremy Corbyn for "playing Russia's game" after the Labour leader accused him of "exaggeration" over evidence that Moscow was to blame for the Salisbury poisoning. "We have not identified the precise source", he said.

This week British government scientists admitted they couldn't tell where the poison came from, undermining a number of claims to come out of the Foreign Office.

Russia's deputy foreign minister, Alexander Grushko, called the Novichok attack a "provocation arranged by Britain" to support high military spending.

"It is our job to provide the scientific evidence of what this particular nerve agent is".

The defence research facility, which identified the substance in Salisbury as Novichok, said it was likely to have been deployed by a "state actor".

The Russian Embassy in London contacted Victoria Skripal, a relative of the victims of the Salisbury incident, saying "our diplomats share with her the information available to the Russian side on the state of health of her relatives, on efforts being made to obtain consular access for them".

He claimed on German television that this was a Russian-produced nerve agent and Porton Down then examined it and said all they could identify it was as novichok.

Britain has also suspended high-level diplomatic contact with Moscow.

More than 20 Western countries expelled Russian diplomats suspected to be spies in solidarity with London after the poisoning, despite Moscow had been fiercely denying it carried out the attack.

But he told Sky News it was not Porton Down's role to work out where the agent came from.

More than two dozen countries - including Ireland - moved to expel Russian diplomats in solidarty with the United Kingdom after the British Prime minister insisted there was "no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian state was culpable" for the attack.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Netherlands has agreed to a Russian request to meet this morning, as the country demanded an "open, thorough and unbiased investigation".

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

"Porton Down identified never agent as military grade Novichok".

It said Russian Federation asked the OPCW, which has received samples of the Novichok used that it has been analysing, for the meeting.


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