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Police on guard for poison at UN meeting; no specific threat

Posted at 8:55 AM, Sep 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-21 09:55:05-04

By TOM HAYS Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) – Police seeking to secure the United Nations General Assembly are on guard for would-be assassins like the two men accused of poisoning a former Russian spy in England.

There have been no specific threats. But the New York Police Department’s top counterterrorism official, John Miller, said Thursday that the department has consulted with authorities in Great Britain on how to prepare for incidents involving the weapons-grade nerve agents.

“We’ve compared notes with our colleagues in the U.K. very closely on this,” Miller said at a news conference about security measures for the gathering of world leaders at the United Nations.

Since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the NYPD has taken extensive measures to guard against biological or chemical strikes. But the British incident has presented the department with a “very complex” wrinkle to that threat, prompting it to run recent drills on how best to respond, Miller said.

Aside from taking extra precautions for visiting dignitaries, the NYPD and the FBI have sought to identify other potential targets, including Russians living in New York who are critics of the current government, he said.

“Those people are talked to and their addresses are flagged in our response systems. So it’s something we’ve put a good deal of effort into,” he said.

Earlier this month, U.K. authorities charged two men believed to be Russian military intelligence officers with the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal, a double agent who betrayed the service by spying for the West. They accused the suspects, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, of using the chemical weapon in the city of Salisbury, which left a British woman dead and four people, including Skripal and his daughter, seriously ill.

The authorities alleged it was carried out by officers of the GRU intelligence service and likely approved “at a senior level of the Russian state.”

President Vladimir Putin has insisted there is “nothing criminal” about the two men. In an interview, they claimed they were tourists who went to England to see the famed Salisbury Cathedral.

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