New York City could be the next site of a chemical assassination attempt if world leaders fail to punish Russia for its alleged role in poising of a former spy in the United Kingdom, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned Wednesday.
“If we don’t take immediate concrete measures to address this now, Salisbury will not be the last place we see chemical weapons used,” Haley told the United Nations Security Council. “They could be used here in New York, or in cities of any country that sits on this Council. This is a defining moment.”
Haley raised the specter of new attacks during an emergency council meeting, held at the request of British officials who have accused Russia of using “a military-grade nerve agent” to target a former military intelligence officer who committed treason. Russian diplomats have denied responsibility for the incident, but British investigators say they have identified the poison as a chemical weapon produced by the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
“Time and time again, member-states say they oppose the use of chemical weapons under any circumstance,” Haley said. “Now one member stands accused of using chemical weapons on the sovereign soil of another member. The credibility of this council will not survive if we fail to hold Russia accountable.”
Russia has denied responsibility for the March 4 incident, which left former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia hospitalized, and warned British Prime Minister Theresa May against considering a cyber-attack or other aggressive retaliation.
“A hysterical atmosphere is being created by London,” Russian Ambassador Visaly Nebenzia told the Security Council. “We would like to warn that this will not remain without reaction on our part.”
Russia faulted the United Kingdom for taking action before submitting to a formal investigation brokered by Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. “Those experts will not be convinced by their argument,” he predicted.
The British representative at the meeting countered that the United Kingdom has invited the OPCW to conduct an independent test, while faulting Russia for ignoring May’s demand for an explanation earlier this week.
“We have received no meaningful response,” deputy ambassador Jonathan Allen said during the meeting. “This council should not fall for their attempt to muddy the waters.”
Haley, for her part, compared the Skripal attack to North Korea’s use of a nerve agent to assassinate the half-brother of dictator Kim Jong-un — a murder that resulted in the designation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. She linked the Salisbury incident to the increasingly-regular use of chemical weapons, especially in Syria, and urged Russia to “come clean” about the assassination attempt.
“The Russians complained recently that we criticize them too much,” she said. “If the Russian government stopped using chemical weapons to assassinate its enemies; and if the Russian government stopped helping its Syrian ally to use chemical weapons to kill Syrian children; and if Russia cooperated with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons by turning over all information related to this nerve agent, we would stop talking about them. We take no pleasure in having to constantly criticize Russia, but we need Russia to stop giving us so many reasons to do so.”
Nebenzia argued Russia had no reason to try to kill Skripal. He described the former double agent as “a perfect victim” for a plot to frame Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government in the run-up to the March 18 presidential elections.
“[T]he most probable source origin for this chemical are the countries which have since the end of the 90s been carrying out intensive research on these kinds of weapons, including the UK,” Nebenzia told the Security Council. “If the UK is so firmly convinced this is a [Soviet-era] Novichok gas, then that means that they have the samples of this and they have the formula for this and they are capable of manufacturing it.”
Allen replied by citing Putin’s past pledge to punish Russian traitors.
“Let me quote the Russian president, when we think about who benefits,” Allen said. “In 2010, [Putin] said, ‘Traitors will kick the bucket, believe me. Those other folks betrayed their friends, their brothers-in-arms. Whatever they got in exchange for it, those 30 pieces of silver they were given, they will choke on it.”Source: Nikki Haley warns: Russia could use chemical weapons in New York