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Theresa May Addresses The Parliament Regarding Nerve-Gas Attack By Russia In Salisbury On March 4. Aired: 1-2p ET
Aired March 12, 2018 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] LYNDA KINKADE, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to the special edition of the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I`m Lynda Kinkade.
The prime minister is expected to address parliament, update on the nerve agent attack of a former Russian spy and his daughter. Prime Minister
Theresa May met with her National Security Council earlier amid growing speculation she will blame Moscow for the attack.
The Kremlin has denied any involvement. The chairman of Britain`s foreign affairs committee says the UK is considering specific sanctions against
Our correspondents are standing by. Our Nick Payton Walsh is outside British parliament. Phil Black is following the investigation in Salisbury
and Sam Kiley has the Russian reaction from Moscow.
We want to start with Nick.
Nick, Theresa May, of course, met with her National Security Council earlier today.
What`s the likelihood this is a state-sponsored attack directed by the Kremlin, and what are we expected to hear when she addresses parliament.
NICK PAYTON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly much of the political clamour, pretty much since this was first declared to be
something that the counterterrorism police we are dealing with would suggests that somehow the Kremlin had directed this.
Now that is an extraordinarily serious accusation. Frankly, the biggest violation of British sovereignty since the last time Russia was accused of
this for poisoning Alexander Litvinenko back in 2006. So Theresa May will be under enormous pressure if she opt to suggest the Kremlin ordered this
to provide evidence for it.
And the first thing people are going to want to hear out of her mouth is exactly what this nerve agent was.
Now it was clear from police last Wednesday, quote, "That they had found the specific nerve agents, but it was two days later that the military came
into place cleaning up the remnants of things that may be contaminated.
It was only yesterday that in fact health authorities told people who had been to the pub and the Italian pizza restaurant where Sergei and Yulia
Skripal spent their Sunday afternoon before they collapsed on that bench in the park just outside behind those two establishments. It is only on
Sunday that those people who had been to those two establishments who are told to wash all the clothes they had worn and give themselves a sort of
wipe their clothes down with baby wipes.
Now that of course is much of the scrutiny now. It`s exactly what was known when, but Theresa May has been pretty much anonymous since the
beginning of this leaving a lot of the announcements to come from their home secretary, a top security official Amber Rudd.
This is a first major announcement. There had been suggestions you might say leaks to the British media in the hours ahead, but this is going to
unveil a comprehensive response and most likely point the finger at Russia. But the border question is, you know, how certain are they this is a
The level of certainty by which people believe that Vladimir Putin hermitically controls all the different arms of its security services and
infrastructure so that something as brazing as this could not have occurred without his sanctioning knowledge.
But another school of thought that says, well, this is totally against Kremlin interest right now because they already have problems from
international sanctions that damage their economy. He is days away from election potentially and this could do nothing but damage the part of the
electorate who may not be 100 percent be convinced they are going to vote for Vladimir Putin. His victory still regardless pretty much assured.
There`s another school of thought, too, that says it`s simply the enemies of the Kremlin painting them to look bad. That`s what comes to the most
cynical Russian school of thought where you look at a situation, you work out who it favored and from that point you have the likely culprit.
But Theresa May, as I say, has to deliver a pretty substantial chain of evidence here, explain to people how she concluded it was this specific
nerve agent that they have already identified since Wednesday. They knew what it was and how it came to be between Sergei and Yulia Skripal.
They were both impacted. How they came to be a substantial trail of contamination over the matter of hours that they were walking around
Salisbury. And then of course also to who administered it and who ordered them to go about that attempted murder spree.
Back to you.
KINKADE: All right. Nick, stand by for us.
I want to bring in, Phil, who is in Salisbury. He`s been covering this story since this attacked occurred.
Phil, it took a week until authorities actually decided to tell people who are at the pub and restaurant where this double agent and his daughter
The fact that there may be some sort of possible contamination on their clothes, or on their belongings, why did it take so long and what are they
saying about that.
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, for those reasons as you just describe there, Lynda, the people here in Salisbury will be very keen to
hear what the Prime Minister has to say about specifically the nerve agent itself.
What is the nerve agent as Nick touched earlier? There authorities have known what it is for some time. What is it? How does it work? What is
the risk? Because you are right, people here had been warned, particularly those who happened to be in the same place as Sergei and Yulia Skripal last
[13:05:10] They may have received some trace contamination because it`s been found in those two locations. The resto behind me. The pub around
the corner. They detected small amount, they say, of the nerve agent there. And it`s people who had been in those two locations that had been
advised to wash their clothes and their belongings and so forth.
The reason is that the authorities say there is a small theoretical risk that prolonged the exposure to the substance. Over a long period of time,
prolonged exposure with the human skin could result in the nerve agent entering the body somehow and having some sort of adverse health
But they have stressed repeatedly that that is just a precaution. That they are being very careful, that they really do not believe that there is
any ongoing risk.
That`s not entirely enough to satisfy everybody here, especially given that this latest advice. The advice to wash clothing and belonging and so
forth. As you have touched on, that came so long after the incident itself.
People here, they are not panicking. They are not overly worried, but they want to know more.
KINKADE: All right, Phil Black, I`m just going to have to cut you off there.
Theresa May, the prime minister, is about to speak. Let`s listen.
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: And the steps we are taking to investigate what happened and to respond to this reckless and despicable
Last week my Right Honorable Friends the Foreign and Home Secretaries set out the details of events as they unfolded on Sunday the 4th of March.
I am sure the whole House will want to once again pay tribute to the bravery and professionalism of our emergency services and armed forces in
responding to this incident, as well as the doctors and nurses who are now treating those affected.
Our thoughts, in particular, are with Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey who remains in a serious but stable condition. In responding to this incident,
he exemplified the duty and courage that define our emergency services; and in which our whole nation takes the greatest pride.
Mr. Speaker, I want to pay tribute to the fortitude and calmness with which people in Salisbury have responded to these events and to thank all those
who have come forward to assist the police with their investigation.
This incident has, of course, caused considerable concern across the community. Following the discovery of traces of nerve agent in Zizzi`s
restaurant and The Mill pub, the Chief Medical Officer issued further precautionary advice. But as Public Health England have made clear, the
risk to public health is low.
Mr. Speaker, I share the impatience of this House and the country at large to bring those responsible to justice, and to take the full range of
appropriate responses against those who would act against our country in this way.
But as a nation that believes in justice and the rule of law, it is essential that we proceed in the right way led not by speculation but by
That is why we have given the police the space and time to carry out their investigation properly.
Hundreds of officers have been working around the clock - together with experts from our armed forces - to sift and assess all the available
evidence; to identify crime scenes and decontamination sites and to follow every possible lead to find those responsible.
That investigation continues and we must allow the police to continue with their work.
This morning I chaired a meeting of the National Security Council in which we considered the information so far available. As is normal, the Council
was updated on the assessment and intelligence picture, as well as the state of the investigation.
It is now clear that Mr. Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia.
This is part of a group of nerve agents known as "Novichok."
Based on the positive identification of this chemical agent by world- leading experts at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down; our knowledge that Russia has previously produced this agent and
would still be capable of doing so; Russia`s record of conducting state- sponsored assassinations; and our assessment that Russia views some defectors as legitimate targets for assassinations; the Government has
concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal.
Mr. Speaker, there are therefore only two plausible explanations for what happened in Salisbury on the 4th of March.
Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country, or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically
damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.
This afternoon my Right Honorable Friend the Foreign Secretary has summoned the Russian Ambassador to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and asked him
to explain which of these two possibilities it is, and therefore to account for how this Russian-produced nerve agent could have been deployed in
Salisbury against Mr. Skripal and his daughter.
[13:10:08] My Right Honorable Friend has stated to the Ambassador that the Russian Federation must immediately provide full and complete disclosure of
the Novichok programme to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. And he has requested the Russian Government`s response by the end
Mr. Speaker, this action has happened against a backdrop of a well- established pattern of Russian State aggression.
Russia`s illegal annexation of Crimea was the first time since the Second World War that one sovereign nation has forcibly taken territory from
another in Europe.
Russia has fomented conflict in the Donbas, repeatedly violated the national airspace of several European countries, and mounted a sustained
campaign of cyber espionage and disruption. This has included meddling in elections, and hacking the Danish Ministry of Defence and the Bundestag,
among many others.
During his recent State of the Union address, President Putin showed video graphics of missile launches, flight trajectories and explosions, including
the modelling of attacks on the United States with a series of warheads impacting in Florida.
While the extra-judicial killing of terrorists and dissidents outside Russia were given legal sanction by the Russian Parliament in 2006.
And of course Russia used radiological substances in its barbaric assault on Mr. Litvenenko. We saw promises to assist the investigation then, but
they resulted in denial and obfuscation and the stifling of due process and the rule of law.
Mr. Speaker, following Mr. Litvinenko`s death we expelled Russian diplomats, suspended security co-operation, broke off bilateral plans on
visas, froze the assets of the suspects and put them on international extradition lists. And these measures remain in place.
Furthermore, our commitment to collective defence and security through NATO remains as strong as ever in the face of Russian behaviour.
Indeed our armed forces have a leading role in NATO`s Enhanced Forward Presence with British troops leading a multinational battlegroup in
We have led the way in securing tough sanctions against the Russian economy. And we have at all stages worked closely with our allies and we
will continue to do so.
We must now stand ready to take much more extensive measures.
Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday, we will consider in detail the response from the Russian State. Should there be no credible response, we will conclude that
this action amounts to an unlawful use of force by the Russian State against the United Kingdom.
And I will come back to this House and set out the full range of measures that we will take in response.
Mr. Speaker, this attempted murder using a weapons-grade nerve agent in a British town was not just a crime against the Skripals. It was an
indiscriminate and reckless act against the United Kingdom, putting the lives of innocent civilians at risk.
And we will not tolerate such a brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil.
I commend this Statement to the House.
JOHN BERCOW, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS: Jeremy Corbyn.
JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER OF THE LABOUR PARTY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Prime Minister in advance for the
advance copy of her statement on this deeply alarming attack that raises very serious questions.
The whole House condemns the suspected poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury and, of course, we wish them a return to good health.
And I`m sure, Mr. Speaker, the whole House will join me in wishing Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey a speedy recovery as well.
No member of our police force and nobody on the streets of Britain should ever face such an attack-let alone one with chemical weapons.
I thank the Prime Minister for updating the House. The investigation into the shocking events in Salisbury must reach its conclusions.
KINKADE: You`ve been listening to the British parliament Jeremy Corbyn speaking there. And just before he spoke, we heard from the British Prime
Minister Theresa May, who said that it was highly likely that Russia is behind the nerve agent attack in Salisbury.
We want to go to our Nick Payton Walsh who is outside the House of Parliament.
And, Nick, quite a strong statement there by Theresa May who said this was a Russian-produced nerve agent.
She gave two options - either they did it, or they were irresponsible enough that it got into the hands of someone who did.
WALSH: Well, let`s just recap what we heard there. I have to say quite a lot of information and quite potentially strong statement from Theresa May,
although she gives a lot of scope potentially in the next 24-48 hours for Moscow to kind of claw this back in their favor if they so choose.
[13:15:07] First of all, she says, this is a military-grade nerve agent, which she calls from the group Novichok. Now that is a device by the
Soviets in the 70s, 80s many experts say get around the number of chemical weapons treaties designed to make sure nobody subtype of weapon.
This was supposed to be undetectable, safer to transport. She says it comes from the Novichok group and that is because the port of military
expertise facility nearby in fact where this occurred have certified it as such.
She says that Russia is capable of making that pretty much only. And more interestingly here, they`ve summon the Russian ambassador and said, look,
there are two possibilities. Either this is you deliberately targeting somebody on our soil with something you knew you were using or you have
lost control of that chemical weapons stockpile and you need to do something about it.
Now recall that Russia was in fact behind brokering a deal with Syria when Syria was accused of using sarin gas to get inspectors in to clean out
serious stockpiles, and perhaps they are the leaning back on the history of this. But they are giving them until the end of tomorrow to provide a
reasonable explanation and frankly choose their part in this, or Britain says it will consider on Wednesday that an unlawful use of force has been
done by Russia against the British state. That is a pretty substantial claim and accusation from Theresa May.
KINKADE: It certainly is. All right, Nick Payton Walsh, please stand by for us.
We want to go back to parliament now and hear reaction from the opposition leader.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So will the Prime Minister agree today to back those amendments to the sanctions of money laundering bill?
More specifically, Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the --
BERCOW: Order. Order. There can be strongly held opinions and inflamed passions, but I appeal to colleagues, whose sincerity and integrity I do
not doubt, to remember that we hear views. Other colleagues will be heard, but the Right Honorable Gentleman must be heard.
CORBYN: Thank you, Mr Speaker.
More specifically, when it comes to the Salisbury attack, what actions are the local police taking to identify fellow diners at the Zizzi`s restaurant
and the Mill pub in Salisbury on the day in question and to ensure they come forward and are checked?
What extra resources are being provided to the local police force, which quite understandably have never had to deal with such an incident before?
We know that across the country the National Health Service is under incredible pressures at the moment, but what extra resources have been
provided to the NHS hospitals in and around Salisbury, and what training has been given to NHS staff and GPs in identifying the symptoms from a
nerve agent attack?
Mr. Speaker, the events in Salisbury on the 4th of March have appalled the country and need thorough investigation. The local community and public
services involved need reassurance and the resources necessary. The action that the Government take once the facts are clear needs to be both decisive
and proportionate, and focused on reducing conflict and tensions, rather than increasing them.
I join the Prime Minister in paying tribute to the magnificent work of our public services responding to this attack: the NHS staff, the police and
security services, the armed forces and the analysts at Porton Down.
Let us, Mr. Speaker, do everything we can to ensure this never ever happens again.
MAY: Can I first of all say to Right Honorable Gentleman that I am sure that everybody in the whole House sends their best wishes to all those who
have suffered as a result of this incident and wish for their recovery.
In the case of Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, I saw a quote, which I was not surprised at because I have heard it from so many police officers who
have been in dangerous situations before; he said that he was merely doing his job. We are grateful to him and all our police officers and emergency
services for doing that.
We do not comment on the threats in relation to individual cases, but of course the police and others look, always look to ensure that we are taking
these matters fully into account and taking them very seriously.
In relation to Russia, we have a very simple approach to Russia, which is, "Engage but be aware." And I think this shows how right it is that this
Government has been cautious in relation to its arrangements with Russia.
I set out in my Mansion House speech last November very clearly the concerns we have about the activities of Russia. It`s a matter that I have
discussed with fellow leaders at the European Union Council.
[13:20:10] I think we must all be very well aware of the various ways in which Russia is affecting activity across the continent and elsewhere.
There can be no question of business as usual with Russia.
The Right Honorable Gentleman raised the issue of party donations. I will say two things to him.
First of all, as my Right Honorable Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer said at the weekend, you should not tar anybody who lives in this country
with Russian extraction with the same brush. And, secondly, there are rules on party political donations, and I can assure him that my party, and
I hope all parties, follow those rules.
We talked about Magnitsky powers. This is an issue where I have been challenged previously -- before on this question, where we do have already
some of the powers that are being proposed in relation to Magnitsky law. But we have already been talking with all parties about the amendment that
has been put down, and we will work with others to ensure that we have the maximum possible consensus before the report stage.
He also raised the question of police capabilities and resources. Not only are Wiltshire police involved in this, but they have support from
neighbouring forces, as would normally happen when an incident takes place which requires that extra capability.
But crucially, at a very early stage, it was decided that counter-terrorism police should take over the responsibility for this because the counter-
terrorism police network has capabilities which are not available to regional forces, and they are indeed in charge in relation to this.
And I can assure the Right Honorable Gentleman that Wiltshire County Council and Salisbury City Council are working with Public Health England,
working with the NHS locally, working with the police to ensure that there is maximum information available to members of the public-the chief medical
officer has herself reassured members of the public that the public health risk is low-and to ensure that the proper arrangements are being put in
place to help the police to get on with their inquiries. That is important.
The police are still working investigating this, and we should ensure that they have the time and space to be able to conduct those investigations.
BERCOW: Iain Duncan Smith.
IAIN DUNCAN SMITH, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: May I commend my Right Honorable Friend for rising to this occasion as she should? Many in this House would
wish that the Leader of the Opposition had abandoned party politics and done just the same.
He is quite right. If the response from the Russian ambassador is simply not credible, she is quite right to expect the House to back her in taking
the most severe action as is required and commensurate.
She is also right to remind the House, and the country, that this country- Russia-is now as close to being a rogue state as any. It occupies Crimea; it has helped to occupy eastern Ukraine; it has created a hell on earth in
Syria, and is even now overseeing worse action.
This is a country locking up its members of the opposition. It`s the country, frankly, we have learned this lesson before, if we appease a
country like this, then we expect even worse.
MAY: I thank my Right Honorable Friend for his remarks. He is absolutely right. Nobody should be in any doubt of the various activities that the
Russian state is involved in across the continent of Europe and elsewhere and the damage that that is doing in so many different places.
He is absolutely right that that is why it is important that this Government-that this country-stand up very clearly and not only calls out
actions by Russia but also ensures that we have a robust response to them.
BERCOW: Ian Blackford.
IAN BLACKFORD, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
And I would like to thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of her statement and share with her the concerns around the recent attack in
It is important that we all work together to get to the bottom of what has happened here.
Mr. Speaker, there can be no denying that this assassination attempt on Mr Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia is not only a step too far by those
responsible; it also calls into question every aspect of our current and future relationship with Russia.
Mr. Speaker, this ruthless action put not only the lives of our emergency services at risk, but also threatened the safety of the wider public who
were enjoying a Sunday afternoon in the cathedral city of Salisbury.
[13:25:14] Everyone has the right to live in the UK in security and safety, and any challenge to that right needs to be responded to in an appropriate
The police have so far identified more than 200 witnesses and 240 pieces of evidence in this attempted killing.
Our thoughts, all of us, our thoughts are with Nick Bailey and his family, and we wish him a speedy recovery.
We commend the emergency services for putting their lives on the line in order to defend all of us. However, there are legitimate concerns around
the delay in time between the events on Sunday, the 4th of March and yesterday, when the chief medical officer advised the public who had been
at the restaurant and the pub to wash their clothing and personal items.
Can the Prime Minister give reassurances today to those members of the public who may have real concerns that they might have been exposed to the
effects of the nerve agent used?
Mr. Speaker, I welcome the prime minister`s actions detailed in her statement and can I ask when she intends to return to the House to update
us all on the measures that we can all take?
There must be firm and strong action taken to send a clear message to the Kremlin. We will not accept Russian interference in our democracy or in
our way of life.
I hope the prime minister will be taking time to raise this matter with colleagues across the EU as our closest allies help to give us a strong
voice when we all speak as one. This kind of international outrage must never again be seen on our streets.
MAY: Can I, first of all, thank the Right Honorable Gentleman for the tone that he has adopted in his response to the statement. Because this is
indeed a matter which should concern us all. It is a matter of national interest. It is a matter of an attack that has taken place, and we must
respond to it appropriately, as he has said.
I think he asked a question about the chief medical officer`s most recent advice to those who had been in the Zizzi restaurant or in the pub.
The answer to that is that, of course, over the course of time last week, as work was being done on this issue, more information became available
about the nature of the agent that had been used. And that led to that precautionary advice being made yesterday.
He also asked when I would be returning to the House. As I said in my statement, we will consider in detail the response from the Russian state
on Wednesday, and I will return to the House at the earliest possible opportunity.
BERCOW: Thomas Tugendhat.
THOMAS TUGENDHAT, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
This, if not an act of war, was certainly a warlike act by the Russian Federation, and this is not the first that we have seen. While some in
this House have stayed silent or decided to join the information warfare that that state is conducting against us and our allies, we have seen them
invade countries in the east, attack allies, attempt to kill Prime Ministers and even now, even now, they are backing the murderous Assad
regime which thinks nothing of gassing its own people.
And Honorable Gentleman of the Opposition stays silent.
Would my Right Honorable Friend agree with me that now is the time for us to call on our allies, to call on the European Union, who has worked with
us so well on sanctions, on NATO and particularly on the United States-and ask what they will do to assist us in this moment when we are in need?
MAY: Can I say to my Honorable Friend, I think he is absolutely right. We should be giving a robust response from the whole of this House to this
incident-this act that has taken place. But we also will be working, has already been a number of engagements with our allies on this particular
matter, and we will be continuing to talk with our allies to ensure that they are aware of what has happened on British soil and also that we can
talk with them about the response that we will be giving.
BERCOW: Sir Vincent Cable.
VINCENT CABLE, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: Does the Prime Minister not agree that one of the most effective ways of punishing Russia for these appalling
activities would be to seize the private property assets of members of the Putin regime and their associates? And as a first step, could she arrange
to publish a list of who they are and what they own?
MAY: I would say to the Right Honorable Gentleman that of course we are aware here of the need in the United Kingdom to ensure that our financial
system cannot be used for illicit money flows and appropriate action is taken by law enforcement and other bodies to ensure that we do identify
such flows and that we make the appropriate response to them.
As you all know.
LYNDA KINKADE, ANCHOR, CNN: Lost our connection there to the British Parliament, clearly some heated words being exchange from lawmakers there
in response to the news by the Prime Minister Theresa May that Russia -- it`s highly likely that Russia was behind the nerve agent attack that we
saw in Salisbury a week ago.
We`ve got several correspondents standing by. Our Phil Black is in Salisbury and we`ve also got our correspondent in Moscow, Sam Kiley. We`re
going to go first to Phil.
Phil, there was a lot of lawmakers there talking about the concern for diners that were both at the restaurant and the pub when this attack took
place and why there was such a delay letting them know that they could be some possible contamination on their belongings.
PHIL BLACK, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Yes, I think, Lynda, first of all, people here will be pretty amazed to hear from the Prime Minister herself,
described a scenario that was really just a theory that people here have been trying to come to terms with all week and that is the extraordinary
idea that hundreds of people in this town, hundreds of British citizens were put at risk through an indiscriminate attack using a military-grade
chemical weapon. That`s essentially paraphrasing how the Prime Minister described that today.
What you`re talking about there is the fact that that`s nerve agent. That chemical weapon has been found in trace amounts in the restaurant behind
me, a pub around the corner where people in this town, visitors here were simply going about their ordinary Sunday, enjoying themselves with a meal
out, a drink at the pub, walking between shops here in the center of Salisbury undernotes completely -- without having any knowledge of the
fact, the risk that moved among them at that time.
Because you see, it`s very likely that it was around that time that Sergei and Yulia Skripal were exposed to this nerve agent, and they have been
unknowingly themselves kind of trailed it around the center of this city and in doing so, left trace amounts of it in different locations and that
is why there is this warning to people who are in these two locations that they may also have been exposed to the nerve agent in small amounts.
Now, fortunately, we know that 21 people in all were assessed or treated in some way for exposure, but only three of those people suffered serious
consequences. They are the Skripals themselves, the police officer that you heard mentioned there in Parliament as well, Detective Sergeant Nick
The other 18 did not require hospital attention, we understand, but hanging over this entire incident is the shadow perhaps of what could have been.
The seriousness, the danger that is posed by a chemical weapon, especially one used indiscriminately in such a public location as this.
This is what people will be thinking about here in Salisbury today. Indeed, it`s what they have been thinking about for much of the last week
and you mentioned there, the people here have been given this advice, if they were at any of these locations where the nerve agent has been detected
that they should wash their clothes, wash their belongings they had with them and so forth.
The initial reaction to all of that from a lot of people here has been, "Well, why are we only hearing this now, some seven days after the
incident? Is there an ongoing risk?" And the authorities here are keen to stress that there isn`t, but it`s the case of perhaps what could have been,
as I say. That worse case scenario that people will be considering here today based upon the theories that have been outlined by the British Prime
The possibility that many more people could have been hurt in a chemical weapons attack in the most unlikely of places, Lynda.
KINKADE: All right, thanks very much, Phil. Just standby first. I want to go to Sam Kiley here. He is in our Moscow Bureau and Sam, we heard from
the Prime Minister that the nerve agent used in this attack was a military- grade, Novichok nerve agent.
Even before this announcement was made that Russia is likely behind this attack, we had heard some response, some reactions so far, the embassy in
London, of course the Russian embassy is saying that UK is playing a dangerous game by pointing the finger at Russia.
What else are you expected to hear from Russia today?
SAM KILEY, MOSCOW CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, we have indeed just heard from the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry. It literally just landed
on my phone in the last few seconds. I`ll read you an extract of it, how it begins. It says, "This is a circus show." This is in relation to the
Prime Minister`s ongoing performance in the House of Commons. "This is a circus show in the British Parliament. The conclusion is obvious. This is
another information and political campaign based on provocation. Before composing new fairy tales, let`s someone in the kingdom tell you about how
the previous ones about the Litvinenko and Berezovsky..."
KILEY: . and others who mysteriously died in British soil." And it goes on to suggest that various more examples of what the Russians perceive or
would like to think of as British conspiracy theories.
I think one of the things that the Russians are going to have to react to though, is the very striking statement from the Prime Minister, the
Russians are being accused of an unlawful use of force against the United Kingdom.
Well, Tom Tugendhat, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee called if not an act of war, a war-like act, and as a leading conservative
invoking perhaps Article V of the NATA Charter that would require a joint action against an aggressor, against the member state, if was so decided
that this had been an act of such level of aggression, and also asking for particular support from the United States.
So, I think by Wednesday, if there hasn`t been a more substantial response from the Russians, then the United Kingdom will be looking very strongly
for support from its European allies and its NATO allies for some kind of concerted response to Russia, which certainly from the perspective of the
British Prime Minister has committed something close to an act of war, an unlawful use of force by Russia against the United Kingdom were her words.
Those are extraordinary words in the modern age of diplomacy to start suggesting in the week after all in which Vladimir Putin has been
showcasing what he says is a new super weapon, this hypersonic type of rocket which it says has got an almost infinite capacity to reach around
the world and indeed, to evade all countermeasures in the hands of all NATO partners including the United States.
So, very dramatic escalation a few hours or days, pass up to 48 hours for some kind of movement to be found, some de-escalation before the United
Kingdom will have to make good on trying to put up a pretty stiff level of retribution for this attempted murder in the town of Salisbury. And of
course, Salisbury, very well known to the Russians. They have been spying on it for years. It`s very much of the center of the British Military
establishment not far from the military academy at Sandhurst, not far from all the shop and indeed Salisbury Plain of course is where most of the
British Army do their training in the United Kingdom.
KINKADE: All right, Sam Kiley for us in the Moscow Bureau. Thank you very much. Just standby first. I want to go to Nick Paton Walsh who was
outside Parliament, who has been listening to Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn and the other lawmakers there.
Nick, the UK obviously, the last time we had the UK found Russia responsible for the assassination of a former agent on UK`s soil was of
course Alexander Litvinenko and at the time, there was a lot of criticism about the UK`s reaction in response to that.
Just take us through the options that Theresa May mentions that she could - - the sort of punishment or retaliation that we could see from the UK government.
NICK PATON WALSH, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, bear in mind, when Alexander Litvinenko was murdered in 2006, Russia was in a very
different place. We were still in the kind of beginning stage if you`d like of what`s now being Vladimir Putin`s seven years effectively in
charge, 17 years effectively in charge of the country now.
Back then, of course, people were shocked that Litvinenko had been murdered in such a way, but it took years really for the chain of command and the
nature of the radioactive substance, polonium-210 to be established without reasonable doubts.
Now, we are in a whole different world. Now, 12 years later or so, Russia`s invaded Ukraine, kind of twice; is deeply involved in the Syrian
conflict, has crackled nerves in the electoral system in the United States and in Europe as well, put the Baltics on edge, trying to really rankle the
very bones of what`s the heart of the NATO alliance.
So, there is no doubt of the fret here, but Theresa May was very clear about exactly what they thought had been used to. A military-grade nerve
agent, Novichok developed in the `70s by the Soviets in the `80s too to be undetectable, to be two separate ingredients you had to put together for it
to be active and to be deadly, and also, to get around various chemical weapons treaties.
So, what potential responses could there be? As Sam was saying, the phrase, "the unlawful use of force by a state is chosen specifically," it
carries with it the weight of international law and it is international law to some degree that would be looking to Russia to embrace in the next 24
hours. They are basically saying, you have to let the OPCW. The Russians are actually encouraged to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons after the
2013 alleged use of Sarin gas in.
PATON WALSH: . Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus. They look to Russia now to embrace that UN system to put these weapon stocks out of harms` way.
Now, to the twofold choice, you see the Russian lets this in and says we`ve lost control of part of it, or effectively says well, we must have been
involved in this somehow.
Moscow, I think, it will be surprising for the next 22 hours ahead of an election now, will allow themselves to look feeble to the point where they
are allowing the UN to clear up their own weapons` mess, so yes, it does look likely that on Wednesday, we`d be looking to see exactly what the
United Kingdom is capable of doing and willing to do in terms of retaliation against Russia.
Now, there`s a lot of Russian money in this city here. There are a lot of parts of the Kremlin elite whose lives could be made extremely
uncomfortable if the United Kingdom would focus its geographical resources on how they acquired the money that may have brought properties here.
That`s one option.
Expelling diplomats, that`s fairly simple too. It`s a very heavy and risky measure to some degree because it cuts off a lot of your channels and
communications if you`ve got a retaliatory measure in Moscow on British diplomats kicked out. With that, they could potentially appeal to NATO
Article V, which Sam was mentioning, which suggests potentially, this is an attack on one member and is therefore an attack on all of them, that`s an
You may see more sanctions potentially on Russia as a state entity if the Europeans are willing to get behind but the Russians have long appealed in
the last years or so to try and find the daylight between European allies here, appealing to some of the more populous movements in Eastern Europe
trying to make separations from the broader body politic of Europe sort of supposed uniting ideals, so you know, it would be perhaps interesting to
see what level of solidarity they can find even though, in fact, a leading Brexit negotiator just in the days after the Salisbury attack occurred said
that Europe must be united behind Russia -- behind the UK`s response to Russia.
So, a lot for the UK to consider. We have seen a lot of time frankly taken by them to make this statement. They were clear last Wednesday that they
knew what the specific nerve agent was and there will be criticism of how the information came out and how the health authorities told people to
respond physically in the area around Salisbury, but it`s quite clear today, Theresa May`s first public statement on this is to say, "Look, we
think Russia did this," to name the agent. They haven`t necessarily laid out the chain of custody you might say as to how it could have got from
Russia, from the Russian labs where presumably it was created if it is indeed Novichok all the way through to Salisbury.
We still don`t know how it was delivered to the place where Sergei and Yulia Skripal were contaminated. We do know there was a matter of hours
frankly when they are able to move around spreading contamination from possibly their home, that`s unclear, but certainly, we know from health
officials that the pub and the Italian pizza restaurant were contaminated as of course was the bench where they were found presumably losing
So, for quite a period of time, they were able to move around Salisbury and the issue of course here is we`re dealing with the obviously reckless use,
and then for Theresa May, of this military grade nerve agents, then the capacity was there for many more people to indeed have been injured.
So, a question still to be answered by the British authorities here about how this was administered, who administered it, whether or not it was
unwittingly delivered by Yulia Skripal on her visit close to the birthday of her deceased brother of which she came to visit Sergei here and she was
one of the only -- one of the family of four that still lived in Russia. The other -- the wife and the son had moved here and were recently
deceased, Sergei living on his own it seems in Salisbury.
So, a question still to be asked about the chain of custody here and Theresa May made quite clear that the police will continue their own
investigation and should be allowed to. She reminded everybody of the role that the rule of law plays in the United Kingdom. Something, actually,
ironically enough that many Russian elites and officials have depended upon by moving their assets here. They like the safety the court system
provides and will now be put to the test certainly in explaining the chain of custody and work out exactly how this may possibly have occurred, but
regardless of that part of the investigation, there is no doubt in the mind of British officials here that they know what it was, Porton Down not far
from the site of where this occurred has established that, they think beyond reasonable doubt.
So, they are giving Russia two choices. Either, you do nothing and we basically have no way to conclude that you weren`t somehow involved in
ordering this or you have to account for this entire stockpile and let the UN basically to then clean it up.
KINKADE: Absolutely intriguing case. Nick Paton Walsh, we are going to stay on this story. Thank you very much.
We`re going to take a quick break. We will be right back. Stay with us.
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KINKADE: Welcome back. The British Prime Minister Theresa May says it is highly likely that Moscow is behind the nerve agent attack on a former
Russian spy, which happened last week.
Speaking before Parliament, she says the nerve-agent is a military grade type developed by Russia.
MAY: It`s highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal.
Mr. Speaker, there are therefore only two plausible explanation for what happened in Salisbury on the 4th of March. Either this was a direct act by
the Russian state against our country or the Russian government lost control of its potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and
allowed it to get into the hands of others.
This afternoon, my right honorable friend, the Foreign Secretary has summoned the Russian Ambassador to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and
asked him to explain which of these two possibilities it is.
And therefore, to account for how this Russian produced nerve agent could have been deployed in Salisbury against Mr. Skripal and his daughter. My
right honorable friend has stated to the Ambassador that the Russian Federation must immediately provide full and complete disclosure of the
Novichok program to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and he has requested the Russian government`s response by the end
KINKADE: Theresa May speaking there. Well, the Kremlin has denied involvement in the attack. CNN intelligence and security analyst, Bob Baer
joins us now from Washington. He is a former CIA officer.
Bob, good to have you with us on this story. As we heard from Theresa May, the nerve agent used was a Russian produced agent known as the Novichok, a
military grade weapon. Can you explain when it was created? What impact it typically has?
BOB BAER, INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST, CNN: Well, a nerve agent like this are easily identifiable in the `90s after the fall of the wall in `91-
`92, Americans were granted access to their weapons facilities and we have a very good understanding of what these nerve agents are and they are
identifiable. There is no mistaking about it.
I mean, the Russians know this and this is what is so disturbing is they would use a military grade nerve agent knowing they would get caught and
didn`t care, so in effect, this is an attack on Britain. I mean, you know, the chances -- there is no rogue KGB, FSB, SVR or whatever it is. There is
no rogue Russian government that doesn`t operate without the orders of Putin.
So, I mean, this is quite amazing to me that the Russians would do this and to contaminate so many people with complete indifference.
KINKADE: Because it`s quite interesting, a sort of nerve agent like this generally, we see responses quite quickly, but the double agent and his
daughter were able to walk around, go to a pub, go to a restaurant and perhaps, come into contact with up to 500 people according to local
We heard from President Putin earlier today, who basically didn`t deny it, but said, he wouldn`t comment on it until the investigation was finished.
What do you make of that sort of a response that he didn`t out-rightly deny it.
BAER: Well, Russian TV has come out and after this attack on 4 March and warned other Russians ex-intelligence officers and dissidents that Britain
is not a safe place. They conducted this attack. The government of Russia no doubt, Putin was involved, at least, we`re 99.9 percent sure of this.
And it`s a warning to them, and you know, he just doesn`t care. He doesn`t care because he doesn`t think Britain, at the end of the day, is going to
react. It effectively didn`t react with the Litvinenko attack in 2006, so they are saying, why would they react now? Why haven`t -- why hasn`t the
United States reacted to the cyberattack on our elections? Same thing.
You know, it`s complacency that the Russians are taking advantage of.
KINKADE: And we heard today in Parliament calls for reaction and help and assistance from the US, from NATO, from EU allies. What sort of reaction,
what sort of response do you think they should be to make Russia, if Russia is indeed behind this change it`s -- you know, the course of its action in
BAER: Well, I think what will probably happen is they`ll expel the Russian Ambassador and a couple of diplomats, but the real question is, I mean,
what do you do against Putin? Do you launch a covert action, program against Russia in retaliation? It could occur anywhere in the world? Is
it the restart of the Cold War?
But again, this -- an attack like this never occurred, a chemical attack has never occurred even during the Cold War. That was a red line that the
Soviet Union never crossed and now, Vladimir Putin is apparently willing to cross that line, almost whimsically.
KINKADE: Bob Baer, if you don`t mind standing by, we want to just listen in to the British Parliament again as they speak about this attack in
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: . broadcast in this building itself, why should be watching their propaganda in this Parliament?
MAY: Yes, well, as I have said in response to a number of questions, I will absolutely -- we will look at the response of the Russian state, but I will
come back to this House at the earliest opportunity to look at the range of measures which could be necessary, and I think in relation to the House
authorities, as the honorable gentleman will be aware, that would not be a matter for me, but for the House authorities.
JOHN SIMON BERCOW, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS: Well, I think we`ve heard the honorable gentleman loudly and clearly. Thank you. Dr. Andrew
ANDREW MURRISON, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, SOUTH WEST WILTSHIRE: I congratulate the Prime Minister for her powerful statement and for her leadership in
this incredibly grave matter. Is Russia a fit and proper state to be hosting or engaging in international sporting fixtures in 2018?
MAY: I say, what I will say and to you, my honorable friend, is that we -- as I said in response in Prime Minister`s questions last week, I think we
will be in the position of considering the attendance at that particular event that is coming up in Russia, notably the World Cup, of dignitaries
and ministers here from the United Kingdom.
CHRIS LESLIE, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, NOTTINGHAM EAST: Prime Minister, there should be unity across the House in terms of what I feel is a proportionate
and sensible approach that she is taking to analyzing what has been happening and coming back to report to the House.
And can I also say that there are certain circumstances as she knows where we take party political differences of opinion, but when our country is
potentially under attack, that is just not appropriate.
MAY: Can I thank the right honorable gentleman for the tone that he has adopted. He is absolutely right. This is a question of the national
interest. It is a question of the interest of our country and what another state may have done on British soil to people living here in the United
Kingdom and that should be a matter that should concern all of us and should be above party politics.
BERCOW: Mark Harper.
MARK HARPER, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, FOREST OF DEAN: Having served with my right honorable friend in the Home Office, she will do what is right to
keep our country safe and she confirmed that if it is the conclusion of her Majesty`s government that there was unlawful use of force by the Russian
state, we possess a considerable range of offensive cyber capabilities which we will not hesitate to deploy against that state if it is necessary
to keep our country safe.
MAY: Thank you, my right honorable friend. That we of course will look at responses across a number of areas of activity, should it be as he has said
and what I said in my statement that we conclude that this action does amount to an unlawful use of force by the Russian state here in the UK.
BERCOW: Nic Dakin.
NIC DAKIN, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, SCUNTHORPE: Thank you Mr. Speaker. It`s good that the Prime Minister has come here today and spelled out what
actions are already taken.
DAKIN: . and promises to return again and inform us on what happens next. Will she also make sure that the lessons learned in the Salisbury community
about this threat and how to prevent it in local communities is shared in an appropriate way with other communities across the country?
MAY: I am very happy to say that I am sure there will be lessons coming out of this for local communities for the NHS; the police, themselves as they
look into this matter and I am sure those -- we would ensure that those are available to all across the country.
BERCOW: Alex Chalk.
ALEX CHALK, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, CHELTENHAM: So, with Russia, we should never forget that for all its geographical size, Russia`s economy is a
little more than half that of the UK. In those circumstances, does my right honorable friend agree with me, the British economic levers are far
more potent than some might realize, and we should not hesitate if the circumstance demand it to pull them hard.
MAY: Well, as I have said, we will be looking at the full range of measures should we -- once we`ve considered the response that has come from the
Russian state. This is in fact the United Kingdom. We have been one of the leaders in ensuring that within the European Union that sanctions
against Russia are in place as a result of the action that took place in Crimea and Ukraine.
BERCOW: Emma Reynolds.
EMMA REYNOLDS, MEMBER OF THE PARLIAMENT, WOLVERHAMPTON NORTH EAST: This horrific attempted murder on British soil demands a strong and united
response for this time. Can she confirm whether the nerve agent in question is found under the Chemical Weapons Convention and that Russia was
a signatory to that convention?
MAY: Yes, it is illegal to use a nerve agent of this sort. It is one and it is essentially one that is banned on the convention.
BERCOW: Bob Stewart.
BOB STEWART, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, BECKENHAM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
KINKADE: You`ve just been listening to Theresa May and the UK British Parliament and as we heard from the Prime Minister, it is highly likely
that Russia was behind the toxic nerve agent attack on the Russian double agent and his daughter in Salisbury and they are going to ask the Russian
Ambassador in London to respond to that tomorrow and the House will meet again on Wednesday to discuss options against Russia if there is no
That does it for this special edition of the iDesk, thanks so much for watching. I`m Lynda Kinkade and CNN Newsroom will start right after this
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HALA GARANI, ANCHOR, CNN: Welcome, everyone I`m Hala Garani, breaking news here in the United Kingdom about that nerve agent attack on a former
Russian spy and his daughter last week in Salisbury, in England.