Ex-spy poisoning row: Britain unable to identify source of nerve agent

Mr Skripal and his daughter stand outside the front door with another relative during a previous visit she made to the UK

So far 29 nations have expelled diplomats over the poisoning, which the British government holds Russian Federation responsible for.

Gary Aitkenhead, chief executive of the Porton Down defence laboratory, told Britain's Sky News that analysts had identified it as military-grade Novichok, but they had not proved it was made in Russian Federation.

The OPCW, the worldwide chemical weapons watchdog, plans to hold a special session on the incident in the Hague on Wednesday.

The facility is located just outside of Salisbury.

Gary Aitkenhead, chief executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, told Sky News that researchers were able to identify the substance used in the attack against Sergei and Yulia Skripal as a military-grade nerve agent known as Novichok, a class of chemical weapons developed by the former Soviet Union and Russian Federation.

Moreover, Aitkenhead's claim that the agent deployed was an "extremely toxic substance" for which there is no known antidote only raises further questions.

He said: "The UK Foreign Minister has been blaming Vladimir Putin".

Responding to the statement by Porton Down, Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded an inquiry into the Salisbury incident, stating his concern at the "the speed at which the anti-Russian campaign has been launched".

British officials have described the request for a joint investigation as "perverse".

Britain's spy agencies have red-flagged an individual who arrived at Heathrow on the Russian state-owned Aeroflot flight AFL2570 from Moscow that landed at 2.32pm on Saturday, March 3, the Daily Mail reported.

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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.

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The Foreign Office has not yet deleted a tweet in which the UK's ambassador to Russia, Laurie Bristow, reiterates the accusation of Moscow being behind the poisoning. It is not clear if the person is suspected of delivering the agent, administering the Novichok, or of being linked to the attack in some other way.

But Britain's foreign ministry accused Russian Federation of requesting the meeting to undermine the organisation's investigation.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were exposed to a chemical weapon developed in the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War.

"No doubt " UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson departs Downing Street in London after a cabinet meeting, 27-03-2018.

The Tweet came after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told German television that there was "no doubt" the nerve agent had come from Russian Federation, and he had recieved personal assurances from Porton Down to that effect.

The UK government has long pointed fingers at Russian Federation for the attack against the former double agent and his daughter on British soil.

In a series of tweets, the Foreign Secretary hit back. The foreign secretary has opted for the second option, being careless with the facts in order to achieve it. "Egg on his face for the statement he made on German television".

"One would think based on the theatrics of United Kingdom politicians, that they are trying out for roles in the British-American spy drama, "Strike Back" versus engaging in serious diplomacy and problem solving", he said. "We have removed this tweet".

This week British government scientists admitted they couldn't tell where the poison came from, undermining a number of claims to come out of the Foreign Office.

"No other country has a combination of the capability, the intent, and the motive to carry out such an act".

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