Sergei Skripal, a former Russian double agent, has been living in Britain since a high-profile spy swap in 2010. (Photo: AFP/Yuri Senatorov)

THE HAGUE - AFP
Russia ex-spy poisoning 'extremely worrying': Chemical weapons watchdog

The nerve agent poisoning of Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal in Britain was "extremely worrying", a global chemical weapons watchdog said Tuesday (Mar 13).

"The recent report that two people became seriously ill in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as a result of exposure to a nerve agent is of serious concern," Ahmet Uzumcu, director-general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said in a statement.

"It is extremely worrying that chemical agents are still being used to harm people. Those found responsible for this use must be held accountable for their actions."

Uzumcu said British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson had called him on Monday evening to discuss the ongoing investigation into the attempted murder of Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury on Mar 4.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has alleged it was "highly likely" that Russia was behind the attack.

Moscow faces a midnight Tuesday deadline to tell London how a Russian-made nerve agent came to be used in the brazen poisoning, with May threatening "a full range of measures" in retaliation.

Russia has denied the accusations, as the US, NATO and the European Union all backed Britain in the deepening diplomatic row.

Founded in 1997, the OPCW based in The Hague oversees the application of the Chemical Weapons Convention aimed at ridding the world of toxic arms and preventing new ones being manufactured.

So far 192 member nations have joined the OPCW. In the past two decades, the body has overseen the destruction of some 94 percent of the world's declared chemical weapons stockpiles.

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