Porton Down could not verify source of Salisbury nerve agent

Russian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko

Gary Aitkenhead, chief executive at Porton Down, told Sky News it was "not our job" to specify the source of the poison.

Russian Federation has already retaliated in kind after Britain initially expelled 23 diplomats.

He said that the creation of the Novichok agent would have required "extremely sophisticated" methods likely only to be available to a state actor.

He added: "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".

The global chemical weapons watchdog agency has said it will meet Wednesday to discuss Britain's USA -backed allegation that Russian Federation is responsible for the poisoning of a former double agent in England.

The head of the Porton Down military research facility has said his scientists have not verified that the nerve agent used in Salisbury came from Russian Federation.

The US ambassador was also ordered to shut the consulate in St Petersburg, in Russia's retaliation for the biggest expulsion of diplomats since the Cold War.

Officials believe this type of nerve agent attack is also meant to send a strong warning to Russian dissidents in the West, the source said.

A spokesperson said: "We have been clear from the very beginning that our world leading experts at Porton Down identified the substance used in Salisbury as a Novichok, a military grade nerve agent".

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Meanwhile, the ex-spy remains in a coma and in a critical condition but last week doctors said that his daughter had shown signs of recovery.

Russia's envoy to the European Union says British accusations of Russian involvement in the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy could have been an attempt to distract public attention from Britain's troubled exit from the EU.

The comments come a day ahead of an extraordinary meeting in The Hague of the executive council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to discuss the Salisbury attack.

Mr Lavrov said it was "outrageous" that Britain had failed to provide consular access to Yulia Skripal, 33, since it emerged that her condition was improving.

Evgeny Buzhinsky, a retired lieutenant general, was quoted in British newspapers on Tuesday as saying the fallout of the attack could trigger "the last war in the history of mankind".

Russia's embassy in the United Kingdom said it "understood from the very start" that Whitehall statements on the nerve agent having been produced in Russian Federation were "a bluff".

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Skripal's poisoning was "in the UK's interests" and accused the West of playing "children's games".

He said: 'You don't want to discuss, you say Russian Federation should change its behaviour, it's not the kind of talk, it's not the kind of compromise we need.

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