New Findings Lend Weight to Russian Role in Poisonings

Watchdog says 'high purity' nerve agent used against Skripals
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 12, 2018 11:29 AM CDT
Yulia Skripal, who was poisoned along with her father, Sergei Skripal.   (Yulia Skripal/Facebook via AP)

(Newser) – The international chemical weapons watchdog on Thursday confirmed Britain's finding that a former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent, as Russia continued to deny suggestions that it was behind the attack. Investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning group, said the nerve agent was "of high purity." Britain says that means only a state with a sophisticated laboratory could have manufactured it. The watchdog's report does not say who was responsible for the attack, since that was outside the scope of its mission. The OPCW's job was to identify the poison, not to trace its origins or assign blame. Britain blames Russia for the March 4 poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury, per the AP. (Yulia is out of the hospital.)

"There can be no doubt what was used and there remains no alternative explanation about who was responsible— only Russia has the means, motive and record," said UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Thursday, per RT. Russia denies involvement, calling the new report "propaganda." Britain has called for an OPCW meeting next week to discuss the results of the organization's report. In a published summary of its findings, the OPCW did not name Novichok, the type of nerve agent previously cited by British Prime Minister Theresa May. But it confirmed "the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury." It said the name and structure of the toxin were included in the full classified report, distributed to 192 member states of the organization. The Novichok class of nerve agents was developed in the Soviet Union.

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