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Russian Bid For Joint Inquiry Into Spy Poisoning Fails

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Russia’s call for a joint inquiry to be held into the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in England failed on Wednesday when it was outvoted 15-6 at a meeting of the global chemical weapons watchdog.

Russia had called an emergency meeting of the decision-making executive of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to counter accusations by Britain that it was behind the March 4 nerve agent poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England.

UK’s security services believe they have pinpointed the location of Russian laboratory that manufactured the nerve agent Novichok used in Salisbury attack, The Times reported on Wednesday. Britain was aware of the existence of the site before March 4, the report said.

It cited an unidentified security source as saying they have a “high degree of confidence in the location”.

Britain’s charges of Russian involvement, strongly denied by Moscow, have triggered mass expulsions of diplomats by both Britain’s allies in the West, including the United States, and similar retaliatory action by Russia.

When the meeting convened on Wednesday, Russia proposed a joint investigation into the poisoning as it was not invited to participate in an independent probe being carried out by the OPCW at Britain’s request, results of which are due next week.

Britain called the Russian proposal for a joint investigation a “perverse” attempt to escape blame for the poisoning of the Skripals, and part of a disinformation campaign mounted by Moscow.

Russia’s proposal in the end drew support from China, Azerbaijan, Sudan, Algeria and Iran, a source told Reuters, with U.S. and European members voting against the plan. There were 17 abstentions among members of the organisation’s 41-member council, only 38 of whose members were present and eligible to vote on Wednesday.

Russia’s ambassador to the OPCW, Aleksander Shulgin, confirmed that the vote had been lost.

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