Mon, Apr 16, 2018 - Page 5 News List

NATO nerve agent found in UK samples: Moscow

ANALYSIS:The BZ nerve agent was used by the US, Britain and other NATO countries, and was never developed by Russia, the Russian foreign minister said


Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov yesterday said Moscow has received a document from a Swiss laboratory that analyzed the samples in the nerve agent poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in the UK, which points at a Western-designed nerve agent as a likely cause.

Moscow received the confidential information from the laboratory in Spiez, Switzerland, that analyzed samples from the site of the March 4 poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury, Lavrov said.

He said the analysis was conducted at the request of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The organization’s report confirmed British findings that the Skripals were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent, but did not say who was responsible.

Britain has accused Russia of poisoning them with a Soviet-era agent, an accusation that Moscow denies.

Lavrov said the document indicated that the samples from Salisbury contained BZ nerve agent and its precursor.

He said BZ was part of chemical arsenals of the US, Britain and other NATO countries, while the Soviet Union and Russia never developed the agent.

The Swiss laboratory also pointed at the presence of the nerve agent A234 in the samples, Lavrov said, but added that the laboratory said that its presence in the samples appeared strange, given the substance’s high volatility and the relatively long period between the poisoning and the sample-taking.

The OPCW’s report did not contain any mention of BZ, he said, adding that Russia would ask the chemical weapons watchdog for an explanation.

Britain said that the A234 agent belonged to the family of Soviet-designed nerve agents dubbed Novichok.

Yulia Skripal, 33, was released from the hospital this week.

Her father remains hospitalized, but British health officials said he is improving.

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