Novichok nerve agent used to poison Sergei Skripal, OPCW says

Military personnel wearing protective suits remove a police car and other vehicles from a public car park

The global chemical weapons watchdog has confirmed Britain's analysis of the chemical used in the Salisbury nerve agent poisoning, as Russian Federation continued to deny responsibility for the attack.

In a letter to the head of Nato, Sir Mark Sedwill also said that Moscow had an assassination programme based around nerve agents that included attacking a victim by smearing poison on a door handle.

He said that claim was "extremely suspicious" because the highly volatile A-234 nerve agent could not have been found at the scene in large quantities given that more than two weeks had passed between the attack and the collection of the samples.

Scientists at Porton Down defence laboratory identified the nerve agent used in the March 4 attack as belonging to the Novichok family, a finding which was confirmed by Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) investigators on Thursday.

The findings were welcomed by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who said they backed Britain's assertion that only Russian Federation could have carried out the attack in March.

He said Russian Federation had a "proven record of conducting state-sponsored assassination" and that it was "highly likely" some defectors - like Mr Skripal, a former GRU officer who was exchanged in a spy swap in 2010 - may be regarded as "legitimate targets".

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May rallied allies in the U.S., Europe, Australia and Canada to conduct coordinated expulsions of more than 150 Russian diplomats last month after she told parliament it was "highly likely" that Russia was responsible.

More news: Syrian regime, allies brace for possible United States attack

"As for "intelligence", it should be remembered that the United Kingdom has a vast record of misleading the government and the public, which entailed catastrophic consequences", the embassy said.

Mr Skripal was a former GRU officer, who was convicted of espionage in 2004. "Within the last decade, Russian Federation has produced and stockpiled small quantities of Novichoks under the same programme", he said.

"While we feel rightly outraged at this act, I have seen no sense that the city wishes anything but friendship with the Russian people and better relations between our governments".

Russian Federation has strongly denied any role in the poisoning of the Skripals.

A hugely symbolic church service is taking place this Sunday (15 April) in Salisbury, just meters away from the centre of the "Salisbury spy poisoning" incident.

In a letter released by police this week, she said she was still suffering from the effects of the poisoning and was "seeking to come to terms with my prospects, while also recovering from this attack on me".

Zakharova added there were doubts that a recent statement by Yulia Skripal was authentic.

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