United Kingdom experts can not confirm source of poison in Skripal attack

Mr Skripal and his daughter stand outside the front door with another relative during a previous visit she made to the UK

Gary Aitkenhead, chief executive of the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, told Sky News that researchers were able to identify the substance used in the attack against Sergei and Yulia Skripal as a military-grade nerve agent known as Novichok, a class of chemical weapons developed by the former Soviet Union and Russian Federation.

In a statement, May's office said: "We have been clear from the very beginning that our world-leading experts at Porton Down identified the substance used in Salisbury as a Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent".

"We were able to identify it as Novichok, to identify that it was military-grade nerve agent".

The British military laboratory said it could not identify the "precise source" of the nerve agent used in the attack.

Following his remarks, a British Government spokesperson said Porton Down's identification of Novichok was "only one part of the intelligence picture".

Mr Aitkenhead said the British government had "other inputs" it could use to determine the origin of the nerve agent, some of them intelligence-based.

British military scientists reportedly have not verified that the nerve agent used to poison ex-spy Sergei Skripal was made in Russian Federation - but said it was "only in the capabilities of a state actor".

Britain has also suspended high-level diplomatic contact with Moscow.

But he told Sky News it was not Porton Down's role to work out where the agent came from.

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"There is no way anything like that could have come from us or left the four walls of our facility", he said.

Peskov said that Britain's theory on who poisoned Skripal "will not be confirmed anyway".

In a letter, Russia's ambassador to the OPCW, Alexander Shulgin, asked for the meeting to discuss Britain's allegations "in a confidential sitting".

The request came after Moscow received and analysed samples of the Novichok agent used in the attack.

The meeting on April 4 - to be held behind closed doors - was called by Russian Federation to "address the situation around allegations of non-compliance" with the chemical weapons convention made by the United Kingdom against Moscow.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Britian will have to apologise to Russian Federation if there is no proof linking it to the Salisbury attack.

Britain's Foreign Office said the Moscow-requested meeting was a "diversionary tactic, meant to undermine the work of the OPCW in reaching a conclusion".

It comes as the chemical weapons watchdog said it would hold a special meeting on Wednesday into the UK Government's claim that Russian Federation was behind the attack.

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