United Nations, New York, USA, April 18 2018 – British Ambassador to the United Nations Karen Pierces during a Security Council meeting on the Chemical weapons attack situation between Britain and Russia today at the UN Headquarters in New York City.
Photo: Luiz Rampelotto/EuropaNewswire
UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu told the Security Council that samples collected by the UN chemical watchdog (OPCW) team “confirm the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used on 4 March in Salisbury.”
Speaking at the Council today Nakamitsu said the OPCW team received information on the medical conditions of the three individuals affected by the nerve agent and collected blood samples from those individuals. It also conducted on-site sampling of environmental samples and noted that “the toxic chemical in question was of high purity.”
British ambassador Karen Pierce said the high purity of the nerve agent meant that it could only be produced by a state laboratory adding that “no terrorist group or non-state actor would be able to produce this agent in the purity described by the OPCW testing, and this is something Russia has acknowledged.”
Pierce said Russia had continued its chemical weapons programme after the fall of the Soviet Union. She said Russia produced and stockpiled small quantities of Novichoks and further developed some after ratifying the chemical weapons convention adding that “President Putin himself was closely involved in the chemical weapons programme” in the mid-2000s.
The British ambassador said her country continued to face accusation from Russian officials, adding that question submitted to Russia over a month ago regarding the incident remain unanswered.
Karen Pierce, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations:
“One accusation that we faced today and in recent days was that Julia had not been poisoned, that the British Government had in fact drugged her and put her in a coma and then injected her with the poisons that were found. Mr. President, this is more than fanciful, it is outlandish. That sort of thing may happen in Russia, but I can assure the Council it does not and will not happen in the United Kingdom.”
United States ambassador Nikki Haley said her Government agreed with the UK’s assessment that Russia is responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Salisbury. She hoped that Council members would join her “in delivering a clear condemnation of the use of a Russian nerve agent on another member’s soil.” Haley added, “Unless we stop this now, there will be more death and more scenes that nobody wants to see; there is nothing more troubling than the idea that the use of a weapon of mass destruction becomes routine.”
Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the OPCW report does not help the British with their theory of Russian involvement adding that the promptness of the analysis confirmed that the nerve agent in question could be produced in any properly equipped laboratory which exist in the US, UK, and elsewhere. He noted that the formula for the nerve agent has been publicly known since 1998.
Nebenzia reaffirmed Russia’s position that it “will not accept the results of any national or international investigations without familiarizing [itself] with the whole body of information, be it information from the criminal investigation or full technical reports from the laboratories, without exercising [its] right to consular access to Russian citizens, and most importantly, without direct participation of Russian experts in all operations related to shedding light on what took place in Salisbury on 4 March.”
Responding to the British ambassador’s accusation that President Putin was involved in a Russian chemical weapons programme in the mid-2000s, Nebenzia said, “Clearly London believes that the Russian President has a hobby; the time which is not taken up by his Presidential duties is spent on chemical weapons programmes.” He said the UK had “crossed the threshold of what is acceptable and all conceivable decency” adding that it should thank President Putin “for the fact that he is a highly restrained individual.”