Haley: Russian Nerve Agent in UK Harbinger of 'Frightening New Reality'

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley listens during a Security Council meeting April 18, 2018, at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley warned at a UN Security Council briefing on the nerve agent attack in the UK that “we are rapidly confronting a frightening new reality — if chemical weapons can appear in a small English town, where might they start appearing next?”

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Report on the Attack in Salisbury confirmed the British conclusion that the “high purity” nerve agent used in the attack was Russian Novichok. The UK says it was delivered in liquid form; one of the highest concentrations investigators has found was on Sergei Skripal’s front door handle.

Skripal, a former Russian spy who fed intelligence to the Brits from 1995 to 2004 and was sent to the UK in a spy exchange in 2010, and his daughter Yulia collapsed March 4 at a shopping center in Salisbury. The first police officer on scene, Nick Bailey, was hospitalized in serious condition and later released. A restaurant and a pub in the center tested positive for traces of the nerve agent.

“Last week, the Council met five times to discuss the chemical weapons attack in Douma. Today, we are here yet again talking about chemical weapons. This time, it’s about a military grade nerve agent used against two people on British soil. In the constant push of meeting after meeting here in this chamber, it’s easy to lose track of what this means,” Haley said at the UNSC meeting.

“None of us will be immune from this threat, unless we immediately start rebuilding our consensus against chemical weapons,” she said. “I will not engage in an argument over self-evident facts. I will not trade accusations of shameful behavior with those who have no shame. I will not waste this council’s time.”

“I will say only this: the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has released an independent report that confirmed the United Kingdom’s lab analysis of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury. Three people were seriously injured. Hundreds were exposed. This act was brazen, and in complete defiance of the international consensus against the use of chemical weapons. As we have stated previously, the United States agrees with the UK’s assessment that Russia is responsible for the chemical weapons in Salisbury.”

Haley said that whether the attack was a “direct act” of Russia or “irresponsibly losing control of the agent, which could be worse, our support for our British friends and colleagues is unwavering.”

“Douma and Salisbury are just the two latest incidents involving the use of chemical weapons around the world. They offer us a reminder that these are weapons of terror. They are indiscriminate,” she said. “They have no place in the civilized world.”

The envoy said that the UNSC must deliver “a clear condemnation of the use of a Russian nerve agent on another member’s soil,” because “unless we stop this now, there will be more death and more scenes that nobody wants to see.”

“There is nothing more troubling than the idea that the use of a weapon of mass destruction becomes routine. Last year it was Malaysia and Khan Sheikhoun. Last month it was Salisbury. Last week it was Douma. If we don’t come together – soon – and take a firm, unequivocal stance against this deadly trend, the next attack will come. And it could very well come closer to home for one of us,” Haley continued.

“Then of course it will be too late. Too late for the victims. Too late for the wounded survivors. Too late for the women and children. This is a matter of basic morality. We cannot, in good conscience, allow this to continue.”