Scientists can't verify nerve agent source

Vladimir Putin

The British government repeated its claim that Russia was responsible for the Salisbury poisoning after United Kingdom scientists said they were unable to determine where the substance used to attack former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia was made. "We spoke about it in brief, Mr. President asked some questions about it", Putin said.

Britain suspended high-level diplomatic contact with Moscow and said it would not send any members of its royal family to the football World Cup Russia is hosting in June.

Vladimir Chizhov said Tuesday "this distractive maneuver could have been aimed at the British society, which has remained split after the 2016 Brexit referendum". In early March 2018, Russia was accused of poisoning a former Russian spy on British soil.

Ms Skripal's condition improved significantly last week and she is now said to be conscious and talking.

France is refusing to answer a detailed list of questions from Russian Federation over the spy poisoning scandal in Britain that has turned into a multi-country diplomatic dispute.

"This chemical identity of the nerve agent is one of four factors used by the Government to attribute the use of chemical weapons in Salisbury to Russian Federation".

A French diplomatic official said Tuesday that Britain had informed France about the details of its investigation.

British officials have previously rejected similar Russian allegations.

The official told The Associated Press that France would not respond to Russian Federation until Moscow answers questions posed by Britain's government on March 12. "As the Prime Minister has set out in a number of statements to the Commons since 12 March, this includes our knowledge that within the last decade, Russia has investigated ways of delivering nerve agents probably for assassination - and as part of this program has produced and stockpiled small quantities of Novichoks; Russia's record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations; and our assessment that Russia views former intelligence officers as targets".

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He added: "It is our job to provide the scientific evidence of what this particular nerve agent is".

Britain says the Skripals were poisoned with a Soviet-developed nerve agent, and that the Russian state must be behind the attack.

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

Aitkenhead said there is "no way" the nerve agent could have come from the high-security facility.

The global chemical weapons control body will hold an emergency meeting to discuss the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal, at Russia's request.

Russian Federation requested the meeting and has demanded an "unbiased investigation" by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

"As the Prime Minister has set out in a number of statements to the Commons since 12 March, this includes our knowledge that within the last decade, Russian Federation has investigated ways of delivering nerve agents - probably for assassination - and as part of this programme has produced and stockpiled small quantities of Novichoks. If they choose to ignore them, there is ample ground to assume that we are dealing with a grand-scale provocation organised by London with the end to discredit Russian Federation".

When asked whether the Skripal case could lead directly to war, he responded: 'Not the Salisbury poisoning, but the pressure.

He argued that experts have said that such nerve agents could have been made in some 20 countries. We expelled diplomats. You further expel, what is the next step?

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