Spy poisoning: Porton Down experts can't identify 'precise source'

Spy poisoning: Porton Down experts can't identify 'precise source'

Published by The Spire FM News Team at 4:20pm 3rd April 2018.

Scientists from DSTL haven't been able to establish where the novichok nerve agent used to poison Sergei and Yulia Skripal was made. 

Scientists from Porton Down have not been able to establish where the novichok nerve agent used to poison Sergei and Yulia Skripal was made. 

Gary Aitkenhead, chief executive of DSTL, has told Sky News they had not been able to prove it was made in Russia. He said:

"We were able to identify it as novichok, to identify that it was military-grade nerve agent.

"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."

He said establishing its origin required "other inputs", some of them intelligence-based, that the Government has access too.

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."

However, he confirmed the substance required "extremely sophisticated methods to create, something only in the capabilities of a state actor".

He said there is no known antidote to novichok, and that none was administered to either of the Skripals.

DOES PORTON DOWN HAVE NOVICHOK STORES?

Porton Down's boss would not comment on whether the lab had developed or keeps stocks of novichok, but dismissed suggestions the agent used to poison the Skripals came from Porton Down.

"There is no way anything like that could have come from us or left the four walls of our facility."

It comes as the chemical weapons watchdog said it would hold a special meeting on Wednesday into the UK government's claim that Russia was behind the attack.

The OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) said its executive council would meet in the morning in The Hague, on Russia's request.

In a letter, Russia's ambassador to the OPCW, Alexander Shulgin, asked for the meeting to discuss Britain's allegations "in a confidential sitting".

OPCW experts have taken samples from Salisbury to try to verify the nerve agent used and its origin.

Former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned four weeks ago in Salisbury.

Russia has been pushing hard for access to the pair, saying it "insists" on seeing them.

Yulia's condition improved significantly last week and she is now said to be conscious and talking. Her father, however, remains unresponsive and critical.

The UK government has said it is looking into the legality of the request and also considering "the rights and wishes" of the 33-year-old.

The diplomatic row has led to more than 100 diplomats being expelled from the UK, Russia, the US and Europe, and the war of words shows no signs of dying down.

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