US prepares more Russia sanctions over Britain nerve attack
The United States said Tuesday it was preparing fresh sanctions against Moscow over the attempted assassination in Britain of a former spy, after a previous round sowed chaos on Russian markets.
Three months after the United States declared that Russia violated a US law that seeks the elimination of chemical and biological weapons, the State Department told Congress in a legally-mandated follow-up that Moscow had not come into compliance.
"We intend to proceed in accordance with the terms of the (Chemical and Biological Weapons) Act, which directs the implementation of additional sanctions," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.
She said the State Department was in discussions with Congress, which has led the push to punish Russia, to determine the exact measures.
British investigators said Russian operatives on March 4 tried to kill Sergei Skripal, a former intelligence officer and double agent, and his daughter Yulia Skripal in the English city of Salisbury.
The attack involved Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The two Russians survived but a third person died after exposure.
Under the US law, the State Department must slap further sanctions three months after its initial determination unless a country proves it has reversed course on chemical and biological weapons, for example by inviting in international inspectors.
Russia has denied involvement in the Salisbury attacks and has promised reciprocal measures to all US sanctions.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned in August that any imposition of further sanctions would constitute a "declaration of economic war."
The first round of sanctions banned exports to Russia of arms and other products with national security applications and froze any US government credit guarantees to Russia.
The sanctions announcement in August sent Russian stocks plunging and the ruble fell to its lowest level against the dollar in nearly two years.