Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Novichok nerve agent use in Salisbury: UK government response
- Also published by:
- 10 Downing Street
This page sets out the government's response to the Salisbury incident, where a military-grade nerve agent was deployed in the UK on 4 March 2018.
On Sunday 4 March Sergei and Yulia Skripal were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia.
Prime Minister Theresa May gave a statement to Parliament on 14 March. Russia has provided no explanation as to how this agent came to be used in the UK, and there is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian State was culpable for the attempted murder of Mr Skripal and his daughter. This represents an unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the United Kingdom.
The Prime Minister stated that the UK government will:
- expel 23 Russian diplomats who have been identified as undeclared intelligence officers
- develop proposals for new legislative powers to harden our defences against Hostile State Activity
- enhance our efforts to monitor and track the intentions of those travelling to the UK who could be engaged in activity that threatens the security of the UK and of our allies
Read the Prime Minister’s statement to Parliament.
On 8 March the Home Secretary Amber Rudd gave an initial statement on the investigation into events in Salisbury. This followed Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s response to an Urgent Question in Parliament on 6 March.
On 12 March Prime Minister Theresa May gave a statement in Parliament. Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country, or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others. The Foreign Secretary spoke to the BBC and reiterated the Prime Minister’s message.
The Prime Minister has spoken with world leaders about the ongoing investigation. Each expressed their solidarity with the UK:
- call with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau
- call with Prime Minister Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg
- call with US President Trump
- call with German Chancellor Merkel
- call with French President Macron
The Foreign Secretary also called for a united response with our international counterparts.
Find out more about the international response in our Twitter Moment.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office also raised this issue in international forums:
- Ambassador Jonathan Allen gave a briefing to the United Nations Security Council
- Peter Wilson, UK Permanent Representative gave an update to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) following his statement to the OPCW on 13 March
- in the 37th Human Rights Council session Julian Braithwaite, the UK Permanent Representative, gave a statement to the United Nations in Geneva
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