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OPCW offered assistance to UK in investigating Salisbury incident — director

The Secretariat offered assistance to the UK last week

THE HAGUE, March 13. /TASS/. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) offered assistance to the United Kingdom in investigating the Salisbury incident, OPCW Director General Ahmet Uzumcu said, addressing a session of the OPCW Executive Council on Tuesday.

"The recent report that two people became seriously ill in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as a result of exposure to a nerve agent is of serious concern. The Secretariat offered assistance to the UK last week," he said.

An OPCW source said, in turn, that the organization was not currently involved in the UK’s investigation but expected that "the UK will share the results of its investigation with the OPCW in due course."

Skripal incident

On March 4, Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, suffered from effects of an unknown nerve agent. They were found unconscious on a bench in a park near the Maltings shopping center in the city of Salisbury. Both are currently in hospital in critical condition.

Skripal was arrested by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) in December 2004. An investigation revealed that back in 1995, he had been recruited by the British intelligence to provide information constituting state secrets. In August 2006, the Moscow District Military Court sentenced Skripal to 13 years in a maximum security correctional facility, also stripping him of his military rank and state awards. In 2010, when Russia and the United States carried out a spy swap, Skripal was handed over to the US alongside three other convicts, while Moscow received ten Russian citizens in return. In the same year, he settled in the United Kingdom.

On March 12, British Prime Minister Theresa May said it was highly likely that Russia was responsible for the attack on Skripal and his daughter. She identified the substance used in the attack as a Novichok nerve agent, developed in the Soviet Union.

On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow had nothing to do with the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter. He pointed out that Russia had not received any requests from the UK concerning a substance allegedly used in the Salisbury incident. Lavrov stressed that in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, the United Kingdom had had to immediately contact the country suspected of using such a substance, providing it with access to the substance in question. The Convention stipulates that an answer to such a question must be given within a period of ten days, Lavrov added.