Moscow: UK denied offer to help in March nerve agent attack

07 July, 2018, 11:56 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley are in hospital after being exposed to nerve agent Novichok. Source 7 NewsMore

The man and the woman are both in critical condition and are receiving treatment at Salisbury District Hospital, where former Russian double-agent Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia were treated after they were poisoned by a nerve agent in March in Salisbury. "It is now time that the Russian state comes forward and explains what has gone on".

Prime Minister Theresa May, speaking alongside Chancellor Angela Merkel during a visit to Berlin, said it was "deeply disturbing" that two more people had been exposed to Novichok, adding that her thoughts were with the people of the area.

Investigators are seeking clues after the two were exposed to the Soviet military-grade substance "Novichok". They were called back later that day when Mr Rowley, 45, also fell ill. They did not elaborate.

The source added that Mr Rowley and Ms Sturgess's symptoms were the same as those shown by Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. "This, of course, fully dissonates with what the British authorities and the British media are saying about Russian Federation". "We're working extremely hard to try to understand the circumstances, the chronology".

"Although Novichoks are quite persistent, they maintain their toxicity for months, whereas older nerve agents only last for hours and possibly days", explained Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, a chemical weapons expert.

Another unknown at this point is where exactly the two came into contact with Novichok.

That means authorities will have to take soil and vegetation samples from sites where it's possible the nerve agent was present and painstakingly test the samples to see if there is any contamination.

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A police officer guards a cordon at a residential address in Amesbury, southern England, July 5, 2018, where police reported a man and woman were found unconscious after contact with the nerve agent Novichok.

Paramedics were called to the home after the woman collapsed and they returned later with fire and rescue officers when the man also became ill.

Officials said there was only a "low risk" to the wider public, but urged anyone who had visited the affected sites to wash their clothes and wipe down personal items.

Andrea Sella, professor of inorganic chemistry at University College London, said Novichok nerve agents were created to be quite persistent and did not decompose quickly.

It's not clear whether the park that's been cordoned off is the same park the Skripals were found in, although the ABC's London Bureau chief Lisa Millar says it was a park "the couple had been in".

Soviet leaders wanted the equivalent of USA binary weapons - agents made up of relatively harmless components that turn deadly when mixed, making them easier to operate than regular chemical weapons.

The Skripal incident triggered a major diplomatic crisis, leading to Britain and its allies withdrawing diplomatic staff from Moscow and tit-for-tat expulsions by Russian Federation.

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