U.S. imposes sanctions on Russia for nerve agent attack in UK

Sergei and Yulia Skripal were attacked with novichok and found slumped on a bench in Salisbury in March

Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found unconscious on a bench in the city of Salisbury, England, on 4 March.

The sanctions would be structured in two tranches, with the biggest impact from the initial sanctions expected to come from a ban on granting licenses to export sensitive national security goods to Russia, NBC reported, quoting a senior State Department official.

The Government has been consistent in pointing the finger of blame at Moscow for the poisoning using novichok - a military-grade nerve agent developed by the former Soviet Union.

The Trump administration will impose sanctions on Russia under a chemical and biological warfare law following the poisoning of a former Russian agent and his daughter in the United Kingdom earlier this year, the State Department announced Wednesday.

The official said a second batch of "more draconian" sanctions would be imposed after 90 days unless Russian Federation gives "reliable assurances" that it will no longer use chemical weapons and allow on-site inspections by the United Nations or other global observer groups.

The U.S. had joined Britain in condemning Russia for the Skripal poisoning and joined with European nations in expelling Russian diplomats in response, but it had yet to make the formal determination that the Russian government had "used chemical or biological weapons in violation of worldwide law or has used lethal chemical or biological weapons against its own nationals".

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They were critically ill but survived after spending weeks in the hospital.

Police think the novichok was sprayed or smeared on their front doorknob with a perfume bottle.

The new sanctions, to be imposed later this month, come despite President Donald Trump's efforts to improve relations with Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin, and his harsh criticism of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Russia deployed a nerve agent on British soil in March in an attempt to kill a former double agent-an attack that sickened the former Russian spy and his daughter, killed a mother of three, and terrorized the Salisbury community.

President Trump remains at his Bedminster golf club and had no public events on Wednesday.

Rowley and Sturgess were hospitalised after being exposed to the deadly nerve agent June 30.

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