Published: Sat, April 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Russian Federation nerve agent tested BEFORE Skripal attack, damning dossier claims

Russian Federation nerve agent tested BEFORE Skripal attack, damning dossier claims

Russian intelligence agencies monitored the emails of former spy Sergei Skripal's daughter Yulia for at least five years before the two were poisoned, Britain's national security adviser said in a letter made public Friday. The strongest concentration of the Novichok nerve agent found in the Salisbury incident was on the front door of Mr Skripal's home.

Moscow has strongly denied responsibility and says Britain is waging a defamation campaign against it.

Moscow has suggested Britain carried out the attack to stoke anti-Russian hysteria, but Britain asked the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to check samples from Salisbury.

Email accounts of Yulia had been targeted in 2013 by cyber specialists from Russia's GRU military intelligence service, Mark Sedwill said in a letter to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday.

"It is highly likely that Novichoks were developed to prevent detection by the West and to circumvent global chemical weapons controls", Sedwill said in the letter.

"It is highly likely that Novichoks were developed to prevent detection by the West and to circumvent global chemical weapons controls", he said.

Richard Guthrie, an independent chemical-weapons expert, says an important detail in the investigation is that the toxic substance is of "high purity". The central element of Britain's case against Russian Federation is the unusual nerve agent used in the attack, which was developed in Soviet laboratories during the last years of the Soviet Union.

Such a highly classified documentation is rarely made public and was only released on Friday, after Russian Federation asked to see proofs of the allegations advanced by the UK.

"Mr. Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russian Federation", specifically from the Novichok group, British Prime Minister Theresa May said after the incident, based on an assessment by British experts.

He said only Russian Federation had the "technical means, operational experience and the motive" for the attack.

"It is highly likely that the Russian intelligence services view at least some of its defectors as legitimate targets for assassination", he said.

A program set up in Russian Federation in the 2000s trained personnel from special units in the use of chemical warfare agents, he said, including investigating how nerve agents could be administered through door handles.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday that a new report on the poisoning of a former spy does nothing to support Britain's contention that Russian Federation was behind the attack.

Skripal, 66, and his daughter, 33, were admitted to a hospital after being found unconscious on a public bench on March 4.

Sir Mark said: "There is no plausible alternative explanation", adding that Russian Federation had continued to produce and stockpile small quantities of Novichok within the last decade.

Moscow has vigorously denied any involvement and suggested that the United Kingdom carried out the attack to stoke anti-Russian hysteria.

"I want to underline: the OPCW only has confirmed the composition of the chemical agent", Lavrov said at a news conference.

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