UK scientists unable to verify source of spy attack nerve agent

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British scientists have been unable to identify the source country of the poison that killed Sergei Skripal. Authorities had been quick to blame Russia for the attack and were confident tests would confirm this.

Britain’s Porton Down defense laboratory announced on Tuesday it was unable to verify the precise source of the nerve agent that killed Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

London had blamed Russia for the attack, although Russia denies involvement.

Military-grade nerve agent

Gary Aitkenhead, the chief executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at the facility, told Sky News:

  • “We were able to identify it as Novichok, to identify that it was military-grade nerve agent.”
  • “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.”
  • The substance required “extremely sophisticated methods to create, something only in the capabilities of a state actor.”
  • “We are continuing to work to help to provide additional information that might help us get closer to [the source] but we haven’t yet been able to do that.”

Russian retribution: Scores of Russian diplomats and spies were expelled from a series of British allies following the March 4 Salisbury attack on the basis that Russia was behind the attack.

Emergency meeting: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said it will hold an emergency meeting in The Hague on Wednesday at the behest of Russia.

Yury Filatov, Russia’s ambassador to Ireland said that if the UK was unable to provide evidence of Russia’s involvement then “there are ample grounds to assume that we are dealing with a grand scale provocation organized in London aimed to discredit Russia.”

aw/jm (AP, AFP, Reuters)

 

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