One day before the anniversary of the Salisbury Novichok poisoning, the Defence Secretary has announced £11million in funding to bolster the UK’s response to chemical attacks.
The money will help develop unmanned vehicles, such as drones and robots, into potentially hazardous areas, putting personnel in less danger and identifying threats faster.
It will also be used to help the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s ability to analyse substances with increased speed and accuracy.
Lastly, it will keep the UK at the forefront of medical advances to combat the effects of chemical agents.
There has been an increase in the threat of chemical attacks across the world.
Within the last year, the Syrian regime launched chemical attacks on its own people, which led to the UK striking several weapons facilities alongside American and French partners.
At home, the UK has seen the longest chemical clean-up in living memory, in Salisbury and Amesbury.
Gavin Williamson said:
"After the Novichok attack in Salisbury a year ago, the nation turned to the Armed Forces and expert scientists. From the investigation to the clean-up, the military and everyone involved in the operation have worked tirelessly to decontaminate the streets of Salisbury.
"Britain and its allies have also demonstrated that they will take a stand against the use of chemical weapons, from the sanctions enforced on Russia following the reckless use of Novichok to the strikes against the chemicals used by Syrian regime.
"We recognise we need resilience to face evolving threats which is why we have invested £11million into ensuring we have a world-leading capability."
Talking about the decontamination work in Salisbury and Amesbury, Standing Joint Commander (UK) Lieutenant General Tyrone Urch said:
"All of the personnel involved demonstrated adaptability, professionalism, resilience, and courage; they have been absolutely first-class and lived up to their world-leading reputation. This investment will allow us to further improve our expertise and, most importantly, keep the public safe."
This funding will be available in the new financial year and invested straight into programmes that will benefit DSTL scientists and the Armed Forces.
It is in addition to the £48million announced by the Defence Secretary last year to develop a new Chemical Weapons Defence Centre.