Novichok used in Skripal attack: Chemical weapons watchdog

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London, April 12 (IANS) A global chemical weapons watchdog on Thursday confirmed the UK’s analysis of the type of the nerve agent used in the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, according to a report from the Dow Jones Newswires.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which conducted its report at the request of the British government, analyzed samples collected by UK authorities from Skripal, his daughter Yulia and a police officer who was exposed to the nerve agent, Efe news reported.

Skripal and his daughter were poisoned on March 4 in the English city of Salisbury.

“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 British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

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The OPCW analysis, which said the chemical was “of high purity”, came after the Western countries expelled over 100 Russian diplomats from their countries in response to the poisoning, straining relations between Russia and the West.

Western leaders said they agreed with Britain’s assessment that it was highly likely Russia was responsible for the attack. The Kremlin has consistently denied any involvement.

The report puts beyond doubt that it was highly likely Russia carried out the attack, people close to the investigation said, adding that the nerve agent could only be concocted in a very sophisticated laboratory by highly capable chemists who were familiar with the agent.

The deadliness of the agent depended on the dose and how it was inhaled. The OPCW was not tasked to identify where the nerve agent came from. The purpose was only to confirm the identification of the nerve agent used.

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The full report by the OPCW, which was classified, mentioned the chemical structure of Novichok but didn’t use the name.

The Novichok class of nerve agents were developed in Russia and their existence were first revealed in the early 1990s by a dissident scientist.

–IANS

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