Britain Says Two People Found Unconscious Poisoned With Novichok
July 04, 2018
Britain's counterterrorism chief has said that two people who are critically ill in a hospital in Wiltshire, southwestern England, were exposed to the Novichok nerve agent, the same toxin that was used in an attack on Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal.
The man and woman, both British and in their 40s, were found unconscious and in critical condition at a house in Amesbury on June 30, less than 20 kilometers from Salisbury, where Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned with the nerve agent in March.
The incident involving the Skripals, who both recovered from their exposure to Novichok after weeks in a hospital, triggered a diplomatic crisis between Moscow and the West.
Britain accused Russian President Vladimir Putin's government of trying to kill them with a military-grade chemical weapon that was developed in the Soviet Union.
London expelled nearly two dozen Russian diplomats over the incident, and its allies in the West also expelled Russian envoys in a major show of solidarity. The United States ordered 60 Russian Embassy personnel out of the country.
Russia denied involvement in the poisoning and responded with tit-for-tat expulsions of the diplomats from Western countries.
Since the Skripal poisoning, Britain has led efforts to strengthen international curbs on banned chemical weapons, most recently by successfully pushing for an expansion of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons' authority to identify the perpetrators behind chemical weapons attacks.
Russia strongly opposed the strengthening of the chemical weapons watchdog's powers and contended that it was illegal. Top Russian diplomats have said they will not honor the new powers granted to the authority.
Based on reporting by Reuters and dpa
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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