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Salisbury nerve agent used to poison Skripals delivered 'in liquid form'

Salisbury nerve agent used to poison Skripals delivered 'in liquid form'

Defra said a "very small amount" of the Novichok nerve agent was used in the attack, with the substance delivered in a "liquid form".

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has detailed efforts being made to decontaminate areas of Salisbury where the chemical agent has been found, as well as more details on the poison itself.

It will first focus on two areas near Bourne Hill police station and two ambulance stations, before work starts on The Maltings area - where the Skripals were found - Zizzi restaurant, a vehicle compound and the home of poisoned police officer Nick Bailey.

The 66-year-old and his daughter, 33, were poisoned in Salisbury on March 4 with a nerve agent called Novichok.

Defra's chief scientific adviser, Ian Boyd, said that the "number one priority is making these sites safe for the public, so they can be returned to use for the people of Salisbury".

The UK and its allies believe the attack was carried out by the Russian state, a claim denied by Moscow, which has accused the UK of masterminding the poisoning.

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On Saturday, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that a Swiss laboratory had detected traces of BZ, which has been used by the United States and UK militaries, in samples sent by the OPCW experts investigating the Skripals' poisoning.

Tests confirmed the area of London Road cemetery, which contains the remains of Mr Skripal's dead wife and son, was not contaminated.

The nerve agent does not evaporate or disappear over time, experts said, and intense cleaning with caustic chemicals is required to get rid of it.

The global chemical weapons watchdog, the OPCW, has confirmed that a Novichok agent "of high purity" was used, although it has not identified where it was made.

"Any use of chemical weapons by a state party, under any circumstances, is a clear breach of worldwide law and a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention", they said.