'No Doubt' Nerve Agent Used In Skripal Poisoning Was Russian, U.K. Ambassador To U.S. Says
Russia’s foreign minister is urging Britain to produce its evidence in the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in the U.K. Britain says Russia was responsible for last month’s poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, a charge Moscow denies.
Meanwhile in the U.K., the opposition Labour Party wants an official inquiry into whether Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson exaggerated evidence from the laboratory investigating the case.
Kim Darroch, the U.K.’s ambassador to the U.S., says Russia has a “track record” of producing nerve agents like the one used in March, and of “state-sponsored assassinations.”
“There’s no doubt in our minds of [Russia’s] culpability,” Darroch (@KimDarroch) tells Here & Now‘s Peter O’Dowd.
On the controversy surrounding the U.K. Foreign Office deleting a tweet saying Russia produced the nerve agent used in March
“That tweet was just misinterpreted, I think. That all comes from this story about the the senior scientist at Porton Down, which is our chemical weapon laboratory, saying that he couldn’t prove that Russia was responsible. And I mean the truth about this is, that’s only a small part of the picture of what we know about what has happened, and why we believe Russia was culpable. It was never the job of Porton Down to assess whether … I mean, to do a kind of Sherlock Holmes thing on who was responsible. It was their job to establish that it was novichok, which is made by the Russians. There’s intelligence and other sources of information which also point the finger towards Russia. So you’ve gotta put the whole picture together to establish culpability, and that’s what we’ve done.”
On whether this goes right to the top of the Kremlin
“I wouldn’t be able to say that. But we certainly suspect something like this would not have happened without the Russian state, one way or another, signing off on it.”
On recent comparisons to the Cold War
“Look, we don’t use language about ‘return of a Cold War.’ What we do say is that Russia is behaving outside all the accepted standards of international behavior, whether in what it’s doing in Ukraine, whether in its takeover of Crimea, whether it’s what it’s doing in Syria, or what it’s done in Salisbury, England. So for us, it’s an issue of Russian behavior outside international norms, and the importance of them recognizing this, and if they want to come back to be a respected and functioning member of the international community, that all needs to change.”
On how the U.K. has worked with the Trump administration in the wake of the poisoning
“[The Trump administration] needed to know what our evidence was behind our attribution of this appalling act to Russia. So yes, we went through all of the reasons why we were convinced that the Russians were behind it, and it was entirely reasonable of the administration to say, ‘Well, tell us everything you know about this and how it happened and why you’re so sure it was Russian attribution.’
“Once that was established, we were always confident that the administration would have our back and that it would support us. And so they did. And the prime minister has had two or three conversations, three conversations, I think, with the president, in each of which he was supportive. He said in one of them something like, ‘I’m going to be behind the U.K. all the way on this.’ So we have nothing but praise for the way that he personally, and the administration generally, responded.”
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