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Neuman writes: "Bowing to congressional pressure, the Trump administration has announced new sanctions to punish Russia for a nerve agent attack in the U.K. on former spy Sergei Skripal."

Britain and its Western allies have accused Russia of ordering the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a deadly nerve agent known as Novichok. (photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/APF)
Britain and its Western allies have accused Russia of ordering the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a deadly nerve agent known as Novichok. (photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/APF)

US to Impose New Sanctions on Russia for Nerve Agent Attacks

By Scott Neuman, NPR

09 August 18

owing to congressional pressure, the Trump administration has announced new sanctions to punish Russia for a nerve agent attack in the U.K. on former spy Sergei Skripal.

In a brief statement, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the U.S. had determined this week that Russia used the nerve agent Novichok to poison Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March "in violation of international law" – a move that triggers sanctions under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991.

The law requires the president to terminate arms sales, deny U.S. credit and prohibit the export of sensitive technology to any country using chemical or biological weapons.

The Associated Press, citing an unnamed State Department official, says that sanctions "include the presumed denial of export licenses for Russia to purchase many items with national security implications."

However, the department says it will exempt aid to civil society and humanitarian groups and allow exports needed for continued U.S.-Russia cooperation in space.

Nauert said the sanctions would begin on Aug. 22. They are expected to affect several hundred million dollars in bilateral trade.

Russia, which has repeatedly denied being involved in the attacks, responded Thursday by calling the new U.S. sanctions "draconian" and rebuffed again the "far-fetched accusations" that it had used Novichok against the Skripals.

Russian lawmaker Leonid Slutsky said that Moscow could retaliate by restricting exports of RD-180 rocket engines to the U.S. The super-efficient RD-180s, originally designed for the Soviet Energia heavy-lift launch vehicle, are currently used in the first stage of the U.S. Atlas V rocket, manufactured by United Launch Alliance, a consortium of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

Russia made a similar threat to cut off the rocket engines after the Obama administration imposed sanctions in the aftermath of Moscow's annexation of Crimea.

Wednesday's announcement from Washington comes less than a month after a summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki that has sparked concern among both Democrats and Republicans over the president's reluctance to hold the Kremlin to account for interfering in U.S. elections.

It also follows a letter addressed to the president late last month by the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ed Royce, R-CA, insisting that Russia be punished under the act. Royce and other lawmakers have accused the administration of dragging its feet on making Wednesday's determination.

Speaking after the State Department announcement, Royce said the administration was "rightly acting to uphold international bans on the use of chemical weapons."

"The mandatory sanctions that follow this determination are key to increasing pressure on Russia," Royce said. "Vladimir Putin must know that we will not tolerate his deadly acts, or his ongoing attacks on our democratic process."

Skripal was a double agent, working for years with Russian intelligence while secretly passing information to British authorities. He was convicted of espionage in Russia but released in a 2010 prisoner exchange and has lived in the U.K. since then.

In early March, he and Yulia, who was visiting from Russia, were found comatose on a bench in Salisbury, Wiltshire, in southern England. British authorities later determined they had been poisoned with Novichok, a nerve agent developed in Russia during the Cold War.

After extensive medical treatment, both have been released from hospital.

Last month, a British couple – Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley – came in contact with Novichok in the same general area where the Skripals were poisoned. Sturgess later died. Authorities believe that the couple was exposed to Novichok that had been discarded following the March attack. your social media marketing partner


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+2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-08-09 10:49
Too bad the congress does not keep up with the news. Same for NPR. Almost no one in the UK believes anymore that the Skripals were poisoned with Novichok or by any Russian. It was a classic false flag -- but one that blew up in Theresa May's face. The intended marks did not die. They are alive and they are a huge problem if they start talking. So the British government has "disappeared" them. No one knows where they are and no one has talked to them. There have been brief and cryptic messeages sent to Julia Skripal's cousin in Russia. One saying she wants to return home.

If the poison really would have been novichok, the Skirpals would have died. They could not have walked around for a few hours before passing out.

So congress has now imposed sanctions on Russia for something that did not happen. I just hope Russia does ban the rocket engine sales and I hope Russia kicks the US out of the space station. Just open the door and toss the Yankee out. Tell him to swim home. Time to play hardball with these incorrigible Yanks.
+2 # laborequalswealth 2018-08-09 13:12
The USA is fast rendering itself a rogue state. How much longer before the rest of the world simply cuts us out of the deal.

340 million Americans versus 6.7 billion non-Americans.

Are we so stupid we can't do the math?
+2 # librarian1984 2018-08-09 16:36
The US has been rogue since the Vietnam War. It's never stopped. We break treaties. We refuse to sign treaties. We topple governments. We tamper with elections. We assassinate, deal arms and drugs, and worse.

If a nonprogressive is in office when the rest of the world finally does an intervention, we will undoubtedly go roguer.

I wish the world WOULD force the US to cut military spending. At least then there might be a few more crumbs for us.

I heard two interesting facts yesterday, which may correlate:

The Pentagon is the largest employer in the world.

94% of the world's blood serum comes from the US. Many employed Americans use the $30-40 to supplement their inadequate earnings. 80% of the clinics are in poor neighborhoods.
0 # LionMousePudding 2018-08-09 21:41
Hmmmm I don't usually doubt you, but the 94% figure makes no sense to me. That would basically mean that no other country has the technology to harvest blood. And, Americans may be giving, but unless one also believes that basically no other country knows how to give blood transfusions, which is ludicrous, you are saying that a certain segment of our population of those 340 million Americans, is giving enough blood for those 6.7 billion non Americans.

With all due respect, where is that figure from?
+1 # librarian1984 2018-08-10 19:43
You're right. Looking back it's not a very reliable source: ABC News :-)

I think it was on Sunday Morning. According to the story we do, indeed, supply 94% of the world's PAID blood plasma. Maybe other countries donate it for free?

It accounts for 1.6% of American exports!
+2 # librarian1984 2018-08-09 16:27
Unfortunately the neocons and neoliberals will use any antagonistic action by Russia as an excuse for military action. They are itching for this fight.

Their kids don't go to battle. They don't even pretend to desire peace any more, and no fact that interferes with their agenda will be acknowledged. Orwell would easily recognize this place.
+3 # tedrey 2018-08-09 12:12
Again America is to unilaterally indict, try, judge, and punish what is properly a matter for the world to deal with.

By the way, Rodion, once again I am kept from giving your good comments an upvote by your inability to keep yourself from unnecessarily violent imagery. Please try to cool it.
0 # LionMousePudding 2018-08-09 21:42
+6 # laborequalswealth 2018-08-09 13:10
Outrageous AND stupid.

There has never been one shred of evidence that the Russian government was involved in Skirpal's poisoning. Though it could well have been the Russian MAFIA - you know, the criminal organization that got its head start under the Chicago Boys when they were raping the Russia economy in the 90's.
+6 # Anne Frank 2018-08-09 14:07
More deep state propaganda that already has the idiot masses swallowing the egregiously preposterous conspiracy theory that the Russian government meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Gotta make the masses hate Russia to make them swallow $700 billion appropriation for the military to make war against all the world and to ignore the real meddling in U.S. elections by Israeli billionaires.

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