Novichok poisoning suspects Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov captured on CCTV. (Metropolitan Police)

U.S. Conducts Training to Identify and Respond to Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction for Assassination

This week, the United States conducted a virtual training with key international partners from across the globe to help first responders, scientists, and security officials detect and respond to incidents where the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) is suspected as a tool of assassination.

Russia has a particularly notorious history of using WMD to target adversaries for assassination.  This includes attempts to assassinate opposition politicians in Russia, dissidents and defectors abroad, and even citizens of other countries whose actions Russia disagrees with.  The assassination attempt against Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, U.K. in 2018 was particularly notable, because it involved the first known use of a Novichok nerve agent that the Soviet Union developed in secret.  And the Skripal incident is not unique.  Just last month, according to chemical analysis by Germany, France, and Sweden, which was confirmed by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a Novichok agent was also used in the assassination attempt of Russian opposition leader Aleksey Navalny.  Addressing such threats are a significant international security priority.

This virtual exercise provided a critical opportunity for key partners to work together as an international community to prevent, deter, and hold those accountable for attacks using WMD.  This is the first in a series of bilateral and multilateral trainings sponsored by United States with key international partners to help address this common concern.

The United States is committed to helping our partners around the world counter Russian malign activities, and looks forward to continuing to work with them to help recognize, attribute, and respond effectively to incidents where use of WMD as a tool of assassination is suspected.

Read more at the State Department

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