UK says attack on ex-Russian spy Skripal undercuts chemical weapons ban | News | DW | 18.04.2018
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UK says attack on ex-Russian spy Skripal undercuts chemical weapons ban

The UK's OPCW representative said Russia "attacked the reputation" of the OPCW chemical weapons watchdog. It comes after an OPCW report confirmed UK findings on the chemical used in the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy.

Peter Wilson, Britain's representative for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), on Wednesday repeated that the UK blames Russia for a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy last month and that Moscow's use of chemical weapons undermined the treaty banning the use of such weapons.

Wilson, who is also the British ambassador to the Netherlands, told a meeting of the executive council of the OPWC that "Russia has waged a brazen disinformation campaign, and attacked the reputation and expertise of the OPCW," according to tweets from the UK's OPCW delegation.

Read more: What does the chemical weapons watchdog OPCW do?

"We will continue to call out Russia's reckless and indiscriminate behavior when it violates the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and when it threatens global security," Wilson said.

Read more: Sergei Skripal: The former spy poisoned with a nerve agent

'Only Russia had the motive'

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found slumped over on a bench outside a shopping center in Salisbury after being exposed to a nerve agent on March 4.

"We believe that only Russia had the technical means, operational experience and motive to target the Skripals," Wilson said.

In a summary of its report published last week, the OPCW did not specifically name Novichok, but did confirm "the findings of the UK relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury."

Read more: What traces of chemical weapons could OPCW investigators still find in Syria?

Wilson said Russia "has a proven record of conducting state-sponsored assassination" and that "it is highly likely that the Russian intelligence services view at least some of its defectors as legitimate targets for assassination."

Wilson highlighted the recent various instances of chemical weapons being used as threatening the CWC.

"In the past 14 months, we have seen the use of chemical weapons in Syria, in Iraq, in Malaysia and now in the UK," Wilson said. "This is a serious threat to the CWC."

Read more: Airstrikes in Syria: What you need to know

Watch video 09:28

The Russians in Syria - Who Do You Believe?

UK regulator probes Russia's RT

Also on Wednesday, Britain's broadcasting watchdog, Ofcom, opened a number of impartiality investigations into Russia's RT news channel, which broadcasts in much of the world including the UK.

"Ofcom has today opened seven new investigations into the due impartiality of news and current affairs programs on the RT news channel," the watchdog said in a statement.

Ofcom said TV Novosti, the holder of RT's UK broadcast licences, which is financed by Russia, had an overall compliance record not "materially out of line with other broadcasters."

"However, since the events in Salisbury, we have observed a significant increase in the number of programs on the RT service that warrant investigation as potential breaches of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code," the regulator wrote in a press release, saying it would announce results of the investigations "as soon as possible."

law/msh (AFP, AP)

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