Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday touted the US response to Russia’s chemical attack in the United Kingdom, despite the fact that the United States has yet to impose a second round of sanctions for the attack.
“After the chemical weapons attack that took place here in Salisbury, along with our other allies, we pushed back, we punished Russia with important sanctions,” Pompeo said in remarks in London. “We wanted the world to know that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by nations like ours who value the rule of law.”
Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia Skripal, were poisoned with VX nerve agent in the English city of Salisbury on March 4, 2018. The international community determined that Russia was behind the attack
The US expelled 60 Russian diplomats and closed a Russian consulate in response. In August 2018, the State Department imposed a first round of sanctions on certain technology under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991.
Russia then had 90 days to certify to the US that it is no longer using chemical weapons, and allow inspectors in to prove it – or it would face a much tougher set of sanctions, that could affecting banking, trade or even diplomatic relations.
The State Department announced in early November 2018 that Russia had failed to meet these terms, but rather than announcing the next round of sanctions, the spokesperson at the time said that they were “consulting with Congress regarding next steps as required.”
Six months after that determination, the second round of sanctions has still not been imposed.
“There is no deadline for imposing sanctions. We are in compliance with the law,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement to CNN Wednesday.
In February, CNN reported that the State Department had not been consulting with Congress. Frustrations around the Skripal inaction and the administration’s soft handed approach to Russia came to a head in mid-February with a bipartisan group of senators introducing a massive bill aimed at countering Russian malfeasance.
CNN’s Michelle Kosinski, Nicole Gaouette, Zachary Cohen and Jamie Crawford contributed to this report.