US blasts attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal

Says Russian attack was a "reckless display of contempt for the universally held norm against chemical weapons"

Guy Cohen,

Aftermath of Skripal poisoning (file).
Aftermath of Skripal poisoning (file).

The US said Friday the nerve agent attack against former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter and Yulia was a "reckless display of contempt for the universally held norm against chemical weapons".

The statement comes two days after the US announced sanctions over the attack. US state department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Wednesday it had been determined that Russia "has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law, or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals".

The new sanctions will take effect around August 22. They cover exports of sensitive electronic components and other technologies that can have military applications. There will also be some further restrictions on Russian access to US financial services.

The state department said "more draconian" sanctions will follow within 90 days unless Russia gives reliable assurances that it will no longer use chemical weapons, and allows on-site inspections by the United Nations.

A British investigation blamed Russia for the attack, which employed the chemical agent Novichok, but Russia denies any involvement in the poisoning. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday that Moscow would be preparing a response to "this unfriendly act" by the US. She did not elaborate.