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Chemical watchdog: Russian nerve agent used to poison ex-spy

By Sara Shayanian
Chemical watchdog: Russian nerve agent used to poison ex-spy
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague, Netherlands, has confirmed Britain's claims that a Russian-made nerve agent was used in an attack on a former Kremlin spy and his daughter last month. Photo by Bart Maat/EPA-EFE

April 12 (UPI) -- The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Thursday it's confirmed the Russian-made Novichok nerve agent was used in an attack on a former Kremlin spy and his daughter last month.

In its report, the OPCW doesn't specifically name Novichok as the agent, but it says experts "confirm the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury."

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British scientists had previously identified Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent, as the poison.

OPCW experts said the chemical used to target Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal on March 4 "was of high purity."

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A team of specialists from the OPCW was sent last month to investigate the attack.

British officials, including Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, have blamed Russia for the attack. The United States, France, Germany and other Western countries have also blamed Moscow for the poisoning.

In retaliation, British and U.S officials expelled Russian diplomats from their embassies -- and Russia answered by expelling British and U.S. diplomats from Moscow.

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The Russian government has denied any involvement in the attack that left the Skripals slumped on a bench at a Salisbury shopping area.

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"There can be no doubt what was used and there remains no alternative explanation about who was responsible -- only Russia has the means, motive and record," Johnson said in a statement Thursday.

Yulia Skripal, 33, who was discharged from the hospital earlier this week and moved to a secure location, is denying help from the Russian embassy. She said Thursday her life is "totally different."

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"I have been made aware of my specific contacts at the Russian Embassy who have kindly offered me their assistance in any way they can," Skripal said. "At the moment I do not wish to avail myself of their services, but, if I change my mind I know how to contact them."

Sergei Skripal, 66, is still "seriously ill" from the poisoning, his daughter said, adding that she's still suffering from effects of the agent.

"I am safe and feeling better as time goes by, but I am not yet strong enough to give a full interview to the media, as I one day hope to do," she said. "Until that time, I want to stress that no one speaks for me, or for my father, but ourselves."

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The Russian Embassy said Thursday that Yulia Skripal's statement was "carefully worded to support" the British narrative and isolate herself from the rest of the world.

"As before, we would like to make sure that the statement really belongs to Yulia. So far, we doubt it much," the embassy said. "The text has been composed in a special way so as to support official statements made by British authorities and at the same time to exclude every possibility of Yulia's contacts with the outer world -- consuls, journalists and even relatives."

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