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

04 April 2018

British military scientists reportedly have not verified that the nerve agent used to poison ex-spy Sergei Skripal was made in Russian Federation - but said it was "only in the capabilities of a state actor".

Gary Aitkenhead, chief executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down, told Sky News they were not yet able to prove it was made in Russian Federation.

"We have not identified the precise source, but we have provided the scientific info to government who have then used a number of other sources to piece together the conclusions you have come to".

Aitkenhead said Tuesday that the attack with a highly toxic Novichok nerve agent was "probably only within the capabilities of a state actor". A statement from Salisbury District Hospital last week said Yulia Skripal was "improving rapidly" and that Sergei Skripal remains in critical but stable condition.

The poisonings of the Skripal in Salisbury, England has sparked a crisis in relations between Russian Federation and the West, producing a wave of diplomatic expulsions unseen even at the height of the Cold War.

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.

Britain blames Russian Federation for the March 4 attack on Skripal and his daughter Yulia, a claim Moscow fiercely denies.

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

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"The United States, in concert with many countries, made the decision to kick out Russian spies", said Nauert.

A spokesperson said: "We have been clear from the very beginning that our world leading experts at Porton Down identified the substance used in Salisbury as a Novichok, a military grade nerve agent".

The British government has said the only plausible explanation was that it came from Russian Federation and blamed Russian Federation for the attack on the former double agent and his adult daughter. "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.

Later, London claimed that the toxin of Novichok-class had been allegedly developed in Russian Federation.

That approach will mean that, among other countries affected, France, Germany and Poland would each have four of their diplomats in Moscow sent home, Ukraine would forfeit 13 diplomats, and Denmark, Albania and Spain would each have two of their embassy staff expelled.

He dismissed Russian claims that it could have come from Porton Down.

Russian Federation requested the meeting and has demanded an "unbiased investigation" by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). "We identified that it is from this particular family and that it is a military grade, but it is not our job to say where it was manufactured". In response to the allegations, Britain and several ally countries expelled Russian diplomats according to a White House press release.

Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko called Skripal's poisoning a "provocation arranged by Britain" in order to justify high military spending, because "they need a major enemy".

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