London: British Prime Minister Theresa May will chair a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) to assess the intelligence around the poisoning of a Russian spy with a deadly nerve agent last week.
The meeting of the country’s security chiefs has been called to update the British PM on the investigation and whether the source of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal is any clearer.
Senior ministers, intelligence and military chiefs will decide if there is enough evidence to take action against the perpetrators, amid widespread speculation that the Russian state was behind the attack.
There is speculation that a UK government announcement after the meeting today could result in action against Russia, including expelling Russian diplomats and fresh financial sanctions.
Yesterday, Britain’s public health authorities had asked nearly 500 people who were at a restaurant and pub linked with the poisoning of the Russian spy to clean up their possessions to remove any traces of the deadly nerve agent used against the targets.
Trace amounts of the substance used to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were found at the Mill pub and Zizzi Italian restaurant in Salisbury, where the duo had been before they were found collapsed on a bench at The Maltings shopping centre in the city.
“The risk to the general public remains low and I am confident none of these customers or staff will have suffered harm,” said Prof Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England.
People who were at either the pub or the Italian restaurant before they were shut down last Monday have been advised to wash their clothes, ideally in a washing machine.
Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, both remain critically ill but in a stable condition in hospital after being discovered on Sunday.
Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who was the first police officer to come in contact with the circumstances, remains seriously ill in hospital but has been talking to his family.
Russia has continued to deny any Kremlin involvement, but the attack has been compared to the murder of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who ingested the rare and highly radioactive polonium 210 in London 11 years ago.
Colonel Skripal was convicted of treason in 2006 and jailed for 13 years for selling secrets to MI6, which had recruited him in the 1990s. The senior intelligence officer with Russian military intelligence GRU was pardoned in a spy swap in 2010 and settled in Salisbury, Wiltshire.