Worldwide chemical weapons group confirms 'novichok' used in Skripals' poisoning

The nerve agent used to poison Sergei and Yulia Skripal was delivered in a liquid form More

Mark Sedwill made the assertion in a letter to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg explaining Britain's conclusion that the Russian government is to blame for poisoning the Skripals with a military-grade nerve agent on March 4.

Britain said Thursday that an worldwide chemical weapons monitoring organization's report strongly bolsters the case for Kremlin guilt in last month's poisoning of onetime spy Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia, 33.

Moscow denied any involvement and suggested Britain had carried out the attack to stoke anti-Russian hysteria, but Britain asked the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to check samples from Salisbury.

The failure to specify exactly where the substance was made has been used by critics to question the United Kingdom government's decision to formally blame Russian Federation for the poisonings.

Britain said that Russian Federation - in violation of chemical weapons treaties - has produced the Novichok class of nerve agents in the last 10 years.

It states it is "highly likely that Novichoks were developed to prevent detection by the West and to circumvent worldwide chemical weapons controls". That was an apparent reference to a cousin in Russia, Viktoria Skripal, who has repeatedly popped up in interviews with official Russian media and has offered to travel to Britain to bring her cousin home.

"The programme subsequently included investigation of ways of delivering nerve agents, including by application to door handles".

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Police who launched an investigation into the attempted murders of Mr Skripal and his daughter, who was visiting him from Russian Federation, believe that the pair first came into contact with the novichok nerve agent at his home in Salisbury, Wiltshire.

Moscow has hit back by expelling Western diplomats, questioning how Britain knows that Russian Federation was responsible and offering its rival interpretations, including that it amounted to a plot by British secret services.

"There is no plausible alternative explanation".

Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko said the embassy would be publishing its own 33-page report about the incident. So far, we doubt it much.

He went on: "We didn't produce and store Novichok, so this is the fact of life and all these allegations that we produce something have nothing to do with the reality".

But Russia's embassy to London on Friday accused the British government of failing to produce evidence to support its claims.

On Monday, the daughter of former Colonel GRU Sergei Skripal Julia was discharged from the hospital in Salisbury, despite previous statements by British Prime Minister Theresa May that poisoning victims may never recover. A police officer was also taken ill after attending the scene.

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