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Russia's request for joint investigation of spy poisoning denied

By Sara Shayanian
Russia's request for joint investigation of spy poisoning denied
Russian Foreign Intelligence Service head Sergei Naryshkin, pictured with Russian President Vladimir Putin, warned Wednesday that souring relations between Moscow and the West could bring another "Cold War." File photo by Yuri Yadobnox/EPA-EFE

April 4 (UPI) -- An international chemical weapons watchdog on Wednesday denied Russia's request to launch a joint probe with Britain into the poisoning attack on a former Kremlin spy.

Member states of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons voted 15-6 to decline Russia's request during the emergency meeting at The Hague, Netherlands.

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Moscow said it won't accept any international scientific findings unless its own scientists are involved in the testing.

The British delegation for OPCW called the proposal for a joint investigation "perverse."

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"It is a diversionary tactic, and yet more disinformation designed to evade the questions the Russian authorities must answer," the delegation said on Twitter.

Following the result of the vote Russia demanded an open session of the United Nations Security Council be convened on Thursday over the case.

"In keeping with the shared by us principle that the use of chemical weapons by anyone and anywhere is inadmissible and must be investigated and punished, that impunity is inadmissible and the use of such weapons poses the risk of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, we, acting at our government's instructions, ask you to convene an open session of the U.N. Security Council tomorrow afternoon," Russian U.N. Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya said.

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Earlier Wednesday the head of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service used the dystopian novel 1984 to describe the diplomatic situation that's come from the poisoning attack on Sergei Skripal.

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Sergei Naryshkin accused British and U.S. intelligence agencies and other European countries of "grotesque provocation" in the aftermath of the nerve agent attack against Skripal and his adult daughter in Britain on March 4.

Relations between Moscow and Western nations have deteriorated since the poisoning. U.S. and British officials said the Russian government was behind the poisoning, but the Kremlin has denied any involvement.

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Speaking Wednesday at a security conference, Naryshkin said the West has resorted to "unprecedented hypocrisy to justify their hegemony," and added that Western countries were ready to erect a new Iron Curtain.

"In fact, all the norms that regulate intergovernmental relations are given precisely the opposite meanings," Naryshkin said, before citing Orwell in saying, "War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength."

"Countering the inexistent Russian threat has become fixation in Washington. It's grown to such a scale and has acquired such silly features that we can speak about a return to the dark pages of the Cold War."

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The European Union said Russia must cooperate with an investigation into the attack by the OPCW.

"It is imperative that the Russian Federation responds to the British government's legitimate questions, begins to cooperate with the OPCW secretariat, and provides full and complete disclosure to the OPCW," the EU said in an emergency meeting Wednesday.

Russia called Wednesday's meeting to challenge the way British scientists handled samples of the military-grade nerve agent -- identified as Novichok.

The tensions follow a mass expulsion of Russian and Western diplomats from their respective posts. The U.S. government closed the Russian consulate in Seattle and expelled 60 Moscow diplomats on March 26, which was followed by Russia ousting the same number of American representatives.

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