Chemical weapons watchdog backs British findings on nerve agent attack

REUTERS

The global chemical weapons watchdog has confirmed Britain's analysis of the chemical used in the Salisbury nerve agent poisoning, as Russian Federation continued to deny responsibility for the attack.

U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said in a statement that the OPCW's conclusion showed "There can be no doubt what was used and there remains no alternative explanation about who was responsible - only Russian Federation has the means, motive and record".

Earlier this week, the OPCW confirmed that the Skripals were poisoned with Novichok nerve agent, which contained nearly no impurities.

Britain named it as Novichok, a group of powerful and deadly chemical compounds reportedly developed by the Soviet government in the 1970s and 1980s.

Minister Sergey Lavrov said Saturday that Moscow received the confidential information from the laboratory in Spiez, Switzerland, that analyzed samples from the site of the March 4 poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury.

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"Only Russia has the means, motive and record", he said.

Britain and allies including the United States have blamed Moscow, sparking furious denials and provoking an worldwide row resulting in the expulsions of diplomats from all sides.

Meanwhile, Moscow on Thursday said it feared the United Kingdom had forcibly detained Yulia Skripal, who was poisoned along with her father in England last month.

Russian Federation denies the British claims about Novichok, saying that it completed the destruction of all its Soviet-era chemical weapons arsenals past year under worldwide oversight.

The Russian embassy, which has repeatedly demanded access to the Skripals, cast doubt on the authenticity of her statement Thursday. The British authorities explained their actions with fears about the unknown consequences of poisoning with the nerve agent "Novichok".

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The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed that the Skripals were exposed to a sophisticated nerve agent that it did not name in a summary of the report that was made public Thursday.

Sergei Skripal, 66, is also making progress and doctors hope he will be able to leave hospital "in due course".

Russian Federation has charged that British officials are keeping Skripal's daughter in isolation. Maria Zakharova, spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, told reporters that the report was part of a continuing British plot against Russia.

By 1993, when Russia signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, Sedwill said it was "likely" that some Novichoks had passed testing to allow their use by the Russian military.

"With no possibility to verify it, the publication by the Metropolitan Police raises new questions rather than gives answers", the embassy said. His daughter thanked the Salisbury hospital staff, adding: "I have left my father in their care, and he is still seriously ill".

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