UK: Nerve agent that poisoned spy was in liquid form

File Photo showing UK police officers guard the spot where former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter were found poisoned. (AP)
Updated 17 April 2018
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UK: Nerve agent that poisoned spy was in liquid form

London: The nerve agent used on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia was delivered in liquid form, British officials said Tuesday, as they revealed it will take months to clean up the toxic trail the poison left around the city of Salisbury.
The UK Environment Department said nine sites need “specialist cleaning,” including a restaurant visited by the Skripals on March 4, the day they were found unconscious on a park bench in the city in southwest England.
About 190 specially trained troops are assisting environmental, health and defense officials with the cleanup, it said.
“Work to clean each site will involve a process of testing, removal of items which may have been contaminated, chemical cleaning and retesting,” the agency said in a statement, adding the effort will take “a number of months.”
British officials say the Skripals were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent that was smeared on a door handle at Sergei Skripal’s house.
Father and daughter were hospitalized for weeks in critical condition. Yulia Skripal was released last week from Salisbury District Hospital, where her father continues to be treated.
British officials say the Russian government was behind the attack using a Soviet-developed type of nerve agent known as Novichok. The international chemical weapons watchdog, the OPCW, has confirmed that a Novichok agent “of high purity” was used, although it has not identified where it was made.
Russia denies involvement in the attack and has accused Britain of failing to share its evidence.
The poisoning has sparked a Cold War-style diplomatic crisis between Russia and the West, including the expulsion of hundreds of diplomats from the two sides.


EU has more pressing priorities than Brexit — French finance minister

Updated 8 min 51 sec ago
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EU has more pressing priorities than Brexit — French finance minister

  • EU leaders last week rejected British Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposals for post-Brexit trade
  • Paris is reluctant to let Britain’s EU divorce talks drag on

PARIS: The EU has more pressing priorities than Britain’s future relationship with the bloc, starting with its own future, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.
EU leaders last week rejected British Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposals for post-Brexit trade, standing firm on their position that the plan would undermine their cherished single market.
“The British made their choice, that’s fine. Excuse me to say so brutally, but there are more important things for us than the future of the United Kingdom. It’s the future of the European Union,” Le Maire told a small group of foreign journalists on Tuesday.
“Any decision that gives European citizens the impression that you can leave the European Union and keep all the advantages would be suicidal,” he added.
He said the priority was to strengthen the euro zone, notably by completing plans for a backstop for its bank resolution fund and creating a shared budget, so that it could cope with a new financial or economic crisis.
Paris is reluctant to let Britain’s EU divorce talks drag on and President Emmanuel Macron said last week that he expected Britain to put forward new proposals next month.
May has insisted she is sticking with her “Chequers” plan, despite fierce opposition from some in her party. She has complained that the EU had not given her detailed reasons for its rebuff.
Macron’s cabinet is holding meetings every two weeks to ensure practical preparations are in place should Britain leave the EU without a post-Brexit agreement in place.
Le Maire said far more was at stake for Britain as all estimates indicated Brexit would have only a limited impact on French economic growth.