The lethal poison that struck down a former Russian spy and his daughter last month in England was a highly pure type of Novichok nerve agent, the global chemical weapons watchdog, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) concluded yesterday, backing Britain’s findings.
Sergei Skripal, a former colonel in Russian military intelligence who betrayed dozens of agents to Britain’s MI6 foreign spy service, and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench in the cathedral city of Salisbury on March 4.
Britain blamed Russia for the poisoning and Prime Minister Theresa May said that the Skripals had been attacked with a military-grade nerve agent from the Novichok group of poisons, developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 80s.
Moscow denied any involvement and suggested Britain had carried out the attack to stoke anti-Russian hysteria, but Britain asked OPCW to check samples from Salisbury.
The OPCW did not explicitly name Novichok in its published summary, say where the poison may have come from or assign blame for the attack. But it did confirm Britain’s analysis about the substance that had been used.
“The results of analysis by OPCW-designated laboratories of environmental and biomedical samples collected by the OPCW team confirm the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical,” the published summary said.