UK: Deadly Soviet-made nerve agent identified in poisoning of ex-Spy

UK Prime Minister Theresa May revealed on Monday that the substance used against the ex-Russian spy and his daughter in Salisbury was identified as a Novichok type nerve agent, a toxic Soviet-developed chemical weapon. “We will not tolerate such a brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil,” May clarified.
Yulia Skripal Photo Credit: Facebook screenshot/Yulia Skripal

The mysterious substance used against the ex-Russian spy and his daughter last week was identified as Novichok, a sophisticated Soviet-made nerve agent, according to UK Prime Minister Theresa May. Novichok type nerve agents are believed to be some of the most toxic and deadliest materials to have ever been developed.

Speaking to the UK parliament on Tuesday, May said it was "highly likely" Russia was behind the attack in Salisbury, which left Sergei Skripal, 66, and daughter Yulia Skripal, 33 in critical condition. “Either this was a direct action by the Russian state against our country, or the Russian government lost control of its potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others,” said May. “Should there be no credible response, we will conclude that this action amounts to an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom.”

“This attempted murder, using a weapons-grade nerve agent in a British town, was not just a crime against the Skripals. It was an indiscriminate and reckless act against the United Kingdom, putting the lives of innocent civilians at risk,” May continued. “We will not tolerate such a brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil.”

Speaking to the Daily Mail on Monday, a Russian chemist who helped develop the nerve agent described its effects.  "It's for paralyzing people, it causes you convulsions and you can't breathe and after that you die, if you get enough of a dose of it,” Vil Mirzayanov was quoted as saying by the newspaper. "It's real torture, it's impossible to imagine. Even in low doses, the pain can go on for weeks. You cannot imagine the horror, it's so bad."

Mirzayanov, who conducted research and development of chemical weapons for the Soviet Union, was fired and accused of treason in 1992 after he decided to reveal information about the country's chemical weapons program. Mirzayanov was released after the trial against him collapsed. He was permitted to live in exile in the US and has been living in New Jersey ever since.

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