House Chairman: Enforcing Russian Violation of Chemical Weapons Act 'Critical to Deterring Additional Attacks'
WASHINGTON -- The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee told President Trump on Thursday that enforcement of the Chemical and Biological Weapons and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 in Russia's UK Novichok attack "is critical to deterring additional attacks."
British police reporteldy have identified multiple Russian suspects who left the country after the poisonings of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in March in Salisbury, England, along with a police officer who responded to the scene. A month ago, Charlie Rowley of Amesbury, England, found a sealed, boxed bottle of perfume and gave it to his girlfriend Dawn Sturgess, who died after spraying the Novichok within on her wrists. All of the other victims have been released from hospitals. Authorities say they have linked the two batches of the deadly nerve agent.
"This is not behavior that Russia can conduct with impunity and we will continue to act together,” Prime Minister Theresa May told Parliament last week.
Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), in a letter to Trump, reminded the president of his March 15 request for a determination on whether the Russian government violated the Chemical and Biological Weapons and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 with the Skirpal poisonings.
The Trump administration had 60 days, under law, to report their findings back to the committee, but have still not done so.
"Mr. President, last week’s news reports that British police have used video footage to identify multiple Russian suspects involved in the nerve attack further underscore the urgency of this matter. You have already indicated in a previous statement that it is 'highly likely' Russia is responsible for these brazen attacks, and thereafter ordered the expulsion of dozens of Russian intelligence officers from the United States 'in response to Russia’s use of a military-grade chemical weapon on the soil of the United Kingdom,'" Royce wrote.
"Your enforcement of the Chemical and Biological Weapons and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 is critical to deterring additional attacks," the chairman added. "Upon your determination that Russia is responsible for the March 15 poisonings, mandatory sanctions will be imposed. These sanctions will remain in place, and increase over time, until Russia takes steps that include allowing U.N. inspections and providing 'reliable assurances' it will not again use banned chemical weapons."
"In recent years, Vladimir Putin has steadily escalated his campaign to consolidate power and undermine the United States. Your compliance with the Chemical and Biological Weapons and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 is critical to showing Putin that we are serious about challenging his deadly acts, as well as his ongoing attacks on our democracy."
Royce set a new deadline of Aug. 9 for the administration to report back to the committee with a determination.