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Diplomat: Salisbury and Amesbury incidents remind of Iraqi chemical weapons tale

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Washington and London failed to learn a lesson from the Iraqi events

SVETLOGORSK /Kaliningrad region/, August 15. /TASS/. The United States and Great Britain are guided by false facts while making decisions on sanctions against Russia in connection with the Salisbury and Amesbury incidents, just like they did in 2003 to justify their invasion in Iraq, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing on Wednesday.

"US politicians immediately joined in the provocation involving Russian citizens in Great Britain and announced new sanctions against Russia," Zakharova said. "We view decisions based on allegations as biased and politically motivated." "All this reminds of the tale of Iraqi chemical weapons. The same two countries - the US and Great Britain - made a decision back then [to invade Iraq - TASS] that was not based on actual facts and some fake information was added afterwards."

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Washington and London failed to learn a lesson from the Iraqi events. "But this time, their reputation will surely suffer a lot more," she added. "Worse still, British law enforcement agencies investigating the Salisbury and Amesbury incidents have been facing ongoing pressure from the British government," Zakharova noted.

"We strongly insist on an independent and transparent investigation into what happened in Salisbury and Amesbury," the Russian diplomat stressed. "Since Russian citizens [former Russian military intelligence (GRU) Colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia - TASS] are involved, we cannot stand aside so we demand consular access to them," she said.

In 2003, the United States accused Iraq of owning weapons of mass destruction. A United Nations commission probing into that information did not find any traces of such weapons in Iraq but nevertheless, the US invaded the country. However, neither chemical nor bacteriological weapons were found in Iraq during the invasion. A test tube containing an alleged sample of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, which then US Secretary of State Colin Powell demonstrated at a meeting of the UN Security Council, turned out to be a fake.

British poisonings

According to London, 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. Chief Executive of the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down Gary Aitkenhead said later that British experts had been unable to identify the origin of the nerve agent used in the attack on the Skripals.

Russia’s Investigative Committee launched a criminal case over the incident on March 16.

On June 30, 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess and 45-year-old Charles Rowley were hospitalized in critical condition in the British town of Amesbury. The Metropolitan Police went on to claim that the two had been exposed to Novichok, the same nerve agent that was allegedly used in the Skripal poisoning. After being mysteriously exposed to a nerve agent and falling into a coma, Sturgess died on July 8 while Rowley managed to recover.