Chem Weapons Watchdog Backs UK’s Findings On Nerve Agent Attack

REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter

A leading chemical weapons watchdog has confirmed British reports surrounding the poisoning of a former Russian spy.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) analyzed blood samples from the nerve agent attack in Salisbury, England, on March 4 that left three people hospitalized. “The results of analysis by the OPCW designated laboratories of environmental and biomedical samples collected by the OPCW team confirm the findings of the United Kingdom,” OPCW reported Thursday.

The two main victims in the attack were Sergei Skripal, a former Russian intelligence officer, and his daughter Yulia. A third individual, responding officer Nicholas Bailey, was also affected. British authorities concluded that the chemical agent used was military-grade novichok, a chemical weapon developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

The initial novichok assessment came from Porton Down laboratories in Wiltshire.

OPCW reports that the substance was “high purity” given “the almost complete absence of impurities.” British intelligence has reportedly linked the toxic substance to Russia’s Scientific and Research Institute of Radiation and Chemical Defence in Shikhany.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson described the OPCW report as “conclusive,” arguing, “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.”

Russia has a history of eliminating overseas dissidents with chemical weapons developed domestically, with one particular case standing out. The brutal murder of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 with a radioactive isotope known as polonium in the U.K.

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