- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Trump administration joined key European allies Thursday in condemning Russia for poisoning a British former spy and his daughter, saying the nerve-agent attack violated international law that prohibits the use of chemical weapons.

In a joint statement, the leaders of the U.S., France, Germany and the United Kingdom called on Moscow to explain its actions.

“This use of a military-grade nerve agent, of a type developed by Russia, constitutes the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War,” the allies said. “It is an assault on the United Kingdom’s sovereignty and any such use by a state party is a clear violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and a breach of international law. It threatens the security of us all.”

The British government announced this week that it was expelling 23 suspected Russian spies, among other actions in response to the attack in Salisbury, England, on March 4. A British police officer who responded to the attack also was injured and remains seriously ill from the nerve agent called Novichok.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called on the U.N. Security Council Wednesday to hold Russia responsible for the attack, saying a failure to confront Moscow could result in more such attacks, even in New York City.

Russia has rejected the accusations as a “fairly tale” and suggested that Great Britain was to blame.

The U.S. and its allies said they share the British assessment that Russia was responsible.

“There is no plausible alternative explanation, and [we] note that Russia´s failure to address the legitimate request by the government of the United Kingdom further underlines Russia’s responsibility,” the statement said. “We call on Russia to address all questions related to the attack in Salisbury. Russia should, in particular, provide full and complete disclosure of the Novichok program to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Our concerns are also heightened against the background of a pattern of earlier irresponsible Russian behavior. We call on Russia to live up to its responsibilities as a member of the U.N. Security Council to uphold international peace and security.”

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