Britain's top diplomat says Russia's Vladimir Putin ordered ex-spy's poisoning

Russia insists it has

Russia insists it has"nothing to hide over Salisbury attack

Britain has written to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to arrange external verification of a military-grade nerve toxin used to attack a Russian double agent, Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman said on Friday.

The chemical used in the attack has been identified part of a group of nerve agents developed by Russian Federation known as Novichok, Mrs May said.

"It was important for the Chancellor (Angela Merkel) and the government to show very clearly that in this matter we are on the side of Britain", he said, adding that Germany had not been asked to assist with Britain's investigations.

Russia's foreign minister says the country will expel British diplomats "soon" as it moves to match the UK's aggressive stance.

They have been critically ill in hospital since they were found on 4 March. May on Wednesday expelled 23 Russian diplomats, severed high-level contacts and vowed both open and covert action following the incident.

Russia's envoy to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons told The AP that his country has no stocks of the Novichok group of nerve agents, insisting that Soviet-era research into the agents was totally dismantled before Russian Federation joined the organization.

European Union contributes €82 million in support for UNRWA
He said the agency went into 2018 with a $146 million shortfall that ballooned to $446 million without the anticipated USA funds. The US had been UNWRA's largest donor, supplying almost 30 percent of its budget.

Speaking to the AP, he called it unlikely that some of the nerve agent could have gone missing in the years after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

If Russia manufactured the agent and did not declare it, it would be in breach of the Chemical Weapons Convention, said a senior British envoy to the United Nations, Jonathan Allen.

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, former commander of the British Army's chemical and biological weapons regiment, called the claim that US or British agents could have developed Novichok "complete hogwash".

It's unclear. Some British media, citing unnamed police sources, are reporting that Yulia Skripal unknowingly brought the Novichok nerve agent to Salisbury in her suitcase on a plane trip from Moscow, arriving in Britain the day before the attack. The ingredients to make Novichok are relatively cheap and accessible, but mixing them together is extremely unsafe, which suggests the nerve agent was brought to the a finished product.

Mr Johnson said: "Now is the moment for [President Vladimir] Putin to jam the lid down and send a signal to people: 'You do this, you're going to die'". A police officer who then visited the Skripal residence was also later hospitalized for chemical poisoning.

But to the West, they are raising similar concerns.

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