Origin of Novichok established not by scientists but by British government

Sergei Skripal with his daughter Yulia before they were poisoned in Salisbury

Sergei Skripal with his daughter Yulia before they were poisoned in Salisbury

Specialists of the military laboratory in Porton Down did not establish in which country the nerve agent Novichok, which was used to poison former Russian military intelligence Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, was made.

The meeting - to be held behind closed doors - was called by Russian Federation to "address the situation around allegations of non-compliance" with the chemical weapons convention made by the United Kingdom against Moscow.

Given Porton Down couldn't identify the "precise source", Putin said it was "surprising" that Prime Minister Theresa May peddled an "anti-Russia campaign" so quickly.

Gary Aitkenhead, chief executive at Porton Down, told Sky News it was "not our job" to specify the source of the poison.

Scientists at the Porton Down lab have identified the poison as a Soviet-developed type of nerve agent known as Novichok, and the British government says the only plausible explanation is that it came from Russian Federation.

Mr Aitkenhead added: "It is our job to provide the scientific evidence of what this particular nerve agent is, 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".

The location of manufacture "can be established through a number of different input sources which the Government has access to", he said, adding: "From our perspective, scientific evidence is only one of those sources, and it requires a number of other things to verify that".

"It is our assessment that Russian Federation was responsible for this brazen and reckless act and, as the worldwide community agrees, there is no other plausible explanation".

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

Ms Skripal's condition improved significantly last week and she is now said to be conscious and talking.

"By the way, some time ago we asked the Foreign Office to facilitate a meeting with Mr Aitkenhead or his colleagues, but have got no reply", the spokesperson added.

"Unfortunately this is an extremely toxic substance".

He said there was no known antidote to novichok.

This March 19, 2018 photo shows the entrance to the Porton Down science park that houses Britain's Ministry of Defense's Defense Science and Technology Laboratory in the village of Porton, near Salisbury, in southern England.

Speaking strictly as a scientist, Gary Aitkenhead said that his staff had not yet verified that the nerve agent used to poison the Skripals had come from Russian Federation.

"We hope to discuss the whole matter and call on Britain to provide every possible element of evidence they might have in their hands", Russia's ambassador to Ireland, Yury Filatov, told reporters ahead of the OPCW meeting.

On Tuesday, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said it would hold an emergency meeting on the case at the request of Russian Federation, which is demanding Britain hand over its evidence.

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.

A Government spokesman said that the authorities had always been clear that the Porton Down assessment was "only one part of the intelligence picture".

"Of course, there is no requirement in the Chemical Weapons Convention for the victim of a chemical weapons attack to engage in a joint investigation with the likely perpetrator", it said.

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