Johnson blames Russia again for Skripal attack, despite independent report providing no new evidence
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) collected independent samples at Britain's request. As the findings were released on Thursday, Foreign Secretary Johnson simultaneously declared, again, that Russia was behind the chemical attack in Salisbury on former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.
Johnson said that the chemical used in the Salisbury attack was a military-grade nerve agent – Novichok – and that there can be “no doubt“ that Russia was responsible.
"There remains no alternative explanation about who was responsible – only Russia has the means, motive and record,” Johnson said, despite the report from the OPCW offering no new findings beyond what Britain’s own lab has already found.
The foreign secretary’s renewed claims that Russia is responsible for the Salisbury attack come after he told a German TV channel that he had been informed by British military lab Porton Down that without a doubt the poison had originated from Russia.
Days later, Porton Down chief Gary Aitkenhead undermined Johnson’s comments, telling Sky News that the facility was unable to determine the origin of the toxin.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May said on March 12 that Sergei and Yulia Skripal had been poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent from the Novichok group of poisons, which sparked international tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions and tension with Moscow. Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attack on the ex-Russian double agent and his daughter.
On Thursday, the OPCW’s executive summary of its independent findings was made public.
“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 relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury and severely injured three people,” the public report reads.
“The name and structure of the identified toxic chemical are contained in the full classified report of the Secretariat, available to States Parties.”
Russia has consistently denied any involvement in the poisoning. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Britain would have to apologize to Russia for its “mad accusations.”
The chemical weapons agency will hold a special session on the Salisbury poisoning next Wednesday to further discuss the findings.
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