Diplomat: OPCW’s ‘50-100 grams’ claim ‘would have poisoned neighborhood’ not just Skripals
Zakharova also noted that London was still reluctant to cooperate with Russia in investigating the Salisbury incident and provide Moscow with consular access to Russian citizens
MOSCOW, May 4. /TASS/. Moscow seriously doubts the information on the amount of the substance used to poison the Skripals, which was made public by Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Director General Ahmet Uzumcu, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Friday.
"Mr Uzumcu has made a sensational statement that 50 to 100 grams of some substance was allegedly used to poison the Skripals," she said. "According to expert estimations, 50 to 100 grams of a toxic agent such as the one Great Britain has been referring to, would be enough to poison not just two people but everyone in the surrounding neighborhood. However, the two people in question managed to survive and recover, the British authorities say," Zakharova pointed out.
"The question is whether Great Britain’s official statements contained a single word of truth or were they just lies," the Russian diplomat went on to say. She also noted that London was still reluctant to cooperate with Russia in investigating the Salisbury incident and provide Moscow with consular access to Russian citizens.
The OPCW chief said earlier in an interview with the New York Times that "about 50 to 100 grams of a liquid nerve agent was used in the March 4 attack on the former Russian spy Sergei V. Skripal and his daughter, Yulia."
"That quantity - a range from slightly less than a quarter-cup to a half-cup of liquid - is significantly larger than the amount that would be created in a laboratory for research purposes, meaning that it was almost certainly created for use as a weapon," the newspaper said citing the OPCW director general.
According to London, former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal, who had been convicted in Russia of spying for Great Britain and later swapped for Russian intelligence officers, and his daughter Yulia suffered the effects of an alleged nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury on March 4. Claiming that the substance used in the attack had been a Novichok-class nerve agent developed in the Soviet Union, London rushed to accuse Russia of being involved in the incident. Moscow rejected all of the United Kingdom’s accusations, saying that a program aimed at developing such a substance had existed neither in the Soviet Union nor in Russia.
However, the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats and announced other restrictive measures against Moscow without presenting any evidence of its alleged involvement in the incident. In retaliation to the UK’s steps, Russia expelled 23 British diplomats, closed the British consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg, while the British Council had to shut down its operations in Russia.
In the wake of the Skripal incident, a number of EU member countries, the United States, Canada and Australia announced the expulsion of Russian diplomats. Washington expelled 60 diplomatic employees and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle.
The Russian Foreign Ministry later announced retaliatory measures against counties that had expelled Russian diplomats. In particular, Moscow expelled 60 US diplomats and closed the US consulate general in the city of St. Petersburg. The United Kingdom was requested to reduce the number of its diplomatic staff in Russia so that it would match the number of Russian diplomats in Great Britain.