1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Salisbury attack: OPCW confirms UK findings

April 12, 2018

The world's chemical weapons watchdog has confirmed Britain's findings that a nerve agent was used in an attack on an ex-spy and his daughter in Salisbury last month. Russia dismissed the findings.

Sergei Skripal
Image: picture-alliance/Globallookpress

Russia on Thursday dismissed findings by the world's chemical arms watchdog backing Britain's conclusion about the type of poison that was used in an attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) concluded on Thursday that blood samples "confirm the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical," according to a summary of the Hague-based group's report released in London.

Read moreWhat does the chemical weapons watchdog OPCW do?

The British government had previously identified the military-grade nerve agent as Novichok in its own tests and  had requested that the OPCW carry out an independent investigation.

The chemical watchdog did not assign blame for the March 4 attack on Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the southern town of Salisbury.  

It did say, however, that "the toxic chemical was of high purity," and that the substance had been named in the full classified report. 

Read more: Novichok nerve agents – Russia's dangerous 'new' poison 

Russia denies allegations

Britain and its allies have pointed the finger at Moscow, sparking an international row that led to the mass expulsion of diplomats on both sides.

Russia strongly denies it was involved and blames Britain for stoking anti-Russian hysteria.

In response to the OPCW report, the Russian foreign ministry said Moscow would not accept the findings unless it gained access to samples. 

"Russia won't take on faith any conclusion relating to the Skripal affair until such a time as Russian experts are allowed access to the samples mentioned (by OPCW)," Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the OPCW's findings prove Britain's suspicions. 

"This is based on testing in four independent, highly reputable laboratories around the world. All returned the same conclusive results," he said. "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."

Read moreSergei Skripal: The former spy poisoned with a nerve agent

Skripal had moved to the UK under a spy swap deal in 2010 and settled in Salisbury. His daughter was visiting from Russia when they were poisoned. British police said the toxin was placed on the doorknob of his home. Yulia, 33, was discharged from hospital earlier this week, while her father is still receiving treatment and is said to be improving rapidly.

The results of the laboratory tests will be discussed at an emergency OPCW session next Wednesday. Britain has called for a UN Security Council meeting to discuss the OPCW findings. 

cw,nm/ng (Reuters, AFP, AP)

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.