Boris Johnson demands Kremlin answers on Salisbury after ‘conclusive’ watchdog verdict

Posted On: 
12th April 2018

Boris Johnson has demanded Russia respond to the chemical watchdog verdict that the poison used in the Salisbury nerve agent attack was Novichok. 

Boris Johnson today responded to the OPCW's findings on the Salisbury ex-spy attack
PA Images

The Foreign Secretary said the ruling backing the UK government meant there was "no alternative explanation about who was responsible - only Russia has the means, motive and record".

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) tested the substance following the attempted murder of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

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Mr Johnson said he had asked the independent body to publish its executive summary of the results, “because unlike the Russians [the UK has] nothing to hide”.

The document laid out that the substance had been made with a “high purity” with an “almost complete absence of impurities”.

The summary does not explicitly name the substance as 'Novichok', one of a group of deadly chemical compounds developed by the Soviet government, but says it "confirmed" the UK government verdict.

Mr Johnson said the findings further proved there was “no doubt” over Moscow’s culpability.

“This is based on testing in four independent, highly reputable laboratories around the world. All returned the same conclusive results," he said in a statement.

“There can be no doubt what was used and there remains no alternative explanation about who was responsible - only Russia has the means, motive and record.

“We invited the OPCW to test these samples to ensure strict adherence to international chemical weapons protocols. We have never doubted the analysis of our Scientists at Porton Down.

“In the interest of transparency, and because unlike the Russians we have nothing to hide, we have asked the OPCW to publish the executive summary for all to see and to circulate the full report to all state parties of the OPCW, including Russia."

Theresa May previously said there was “no alternative conclusion” but that Moscow was behind the attack - a stance later backed by allies including the US and France.

The revelations come after Mr Johnson was himself criticised last week for falsely claiming officials at Porton Down had told him Russia was responsible, only for the lab to insist it was not their remit to determine the source.

In today's statement he added that Britain would "work tirelessly with our partners to help stamp out the grotesque use of weapons of this kind", and noted that a session of the OPCW Executive Council would go ahead next Wednesday to discuss the next step.

He added: "The Kremlin must give answers. We must, as a world community, stand up for the rules based order which keeps us all safe. The use of weapons of this kind can never be justified, and must be ended."