Russian Federation has been stockpiling deadly nerve agent Novichok 'for 10 years'

Lester Mason
March 18, 2018

Boris Johnson labelled Russia's counter-measures "futile" as the diplomatic row over the nerve agent attack on a Russian ex-spy rumbled on.

Russia's European Union ambassador has suggested a United Kingdom research laboratory could be the source of the nerve agent used in the attack on an ex-spy and his daughter.

Russian Federation had been expected to hit back at Britain, after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that his country meant to expel British diplomats.

The ministry said that if Russian Federation has been stockpiling nerve agents, this would amount to a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, of which Moscow is a signatory.

He said Russian Federation did not stockpile the poison and that the Porton Down lab was only eight miles (12km) from the city.

Johnson told the BBC that officials from the Netherlands-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons would arrive in Britain on Monday to take samples of the nerve agent used to poison the Skripals. He also said the government was considering something similar to the U.S. Magnitsky Act.

The results are expected to take a "minimum of two weeks", the Foreign Office added.

"It is Russian Federation that is in flagrant breach of worldwide law and the Chemical Weapons Convention".

Labour will support tough action against Russian Federation including economic sanctions, the shadow chancellor said.

Vladimir Chizhov told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show Russia had "nothing to do" with the poisoning in Salisbury of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. They remain in critical condition.

Britain and Russian Federation have each expelled 23 diplomats and taken other measures in the escalating tit-for-tat dispute.

The government in London "anticipated a response of this kind and the National Security Council will meet early next week to consider next steps", a statement from the Foreign Office said.

"The onus remains on the Russian state to account for their actions and to comply with their worldwide obligations", the British Foreign Office said Saturday. In 2008, Russian Federation ordered the council to close all its offices except the Moscow headquarters as part of retaliation for the UK's expulsion of diplomats over the radioactive poisoning of former security-service officer Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.

Speaking at a regional party conference in Newcastle, Mr Corbyn condemned the attack but said it was important to fully establish the facts before passing blame on the Russian government.

Britain said the assistance in that case was not enough, and in 2016, a judge-led inquiry concluded that Mr Putin had probably approved Litvinenko's murder, something Moscow denies.

Czech foreign minister Martin Stropnicky said the claims were "unsubstantiated" and "a classic way of manipulating information in the public space", while Sweden also "forcefully" rejected the suggestion. "Relations have been poor for a long time, and the cultural field is the only arena where we can have positive, two-way reciprocal communication".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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