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

Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska

"We're reviewing our options", said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, who charged that the attack on the Skripals violated an worldwide chemical weapons ban.

He insisted the nerve agent that Britain said was used to attack former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, could have been produced by some 20 nations.

The chief executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, Gary Aitkenhead, told Sky News on Tuesday that his team has so far not been able to prove the military-grade nerve agent was made in Russian Federation, which the United Kingdom and its allies have blamed for being behind the attack.

"We have not verified the precise source, but we have provided the scientific information to the Government, who have then used a number of other sources to piece together the conclusions that they have come to".

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Julia were poisoned with a nerve agent at his home.

At the same time, the lab's job is "to provide the scientific evidence that identifies what the particular nerve agent is. but it's not our job to say where that was actually manufactured", he said.

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 admission is likely to be seized on by Russian Federation which has suggested that the nerve agent could have come from other nations, or from Porton Down, which is eight miles from Salisbury, the scene of the attack.

Russian officials said no steps have been made in preparation for this meeting according to the same article.

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The OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) said its executive council would meet in the morning in The Hague.

Later, London claimed that the toxin of Novichok-class had been allegedly developed in Russian Federation. The elder Skripal, 66, remains in critical condition, while his 33-year-old daughter is improving in a Salisbury hospital.

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".

Britain and two dozen of its allies have expelled over 150 Russian diplomats.

Earlier on Tuesday, deputy foreign minister Alexander Grushko said, in comments relayed by Russian news agencies, that the Skripals' poisoning was a "provocation arranged by Britain" in order to justify high military spending because "they need a major enemy".

Meanwhile, retired Russian Lieutenant-General Evgeny Buzhinsky warned that relations between Russia and the West could become "worse" than the Cold War and "end up in a very, very bad outcome" following the nerve agent attack.

Speaking on the BBC's Today programme, he warned that the situation could escalate out of control if Russian Federation is cornered.

On what the issue meant for the relationship between Ireland and Russia, Mr Filatov said he did not think it was really "a huge story".

If Britain does not show evidence to back up its allegations that Moscow initiated the attack, "there are ample grounds to assume that we are dealing with a grand scale provocation organized in London aimed to discredit Russian Federation".

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