iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Days before world leaders gather in New York City for the U.N. General Assembly, the NYPD is brushing up on how to prevent state-sponsored poisoning attempts.
While police say there have been no specific poisoning threats in connection to the annual gathering, the NYPD has “compared notes” with authorities in the UK about possible plots similar to the recent attack on former Russian military officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, where they were exposed to a deadly nerve agent called Novichok. The attack is widely thought to be ordered by Russia.
Police have conducted “a very complex field drill” that envisioned a scenario like the Skripal poisoning, and have reviewed how to put on safety equipment and handle poisonous material, Deputy Police Commissioner John Miller said Thursday at a press conference.
“We have spent a good deal of focus on what is a very complicated version of the cross between chemical and biological,” Miller said of potential forms of attack. He added that the same security measures are being deployed this year as in years past, but with a heightened awareness after the UK incident.
In some cases, Miller said, the NYPD has even talked to former citizens of Russia who might now be critics of the Putin regime.
Some of the scheduled U.N. attendees have survived recent attempts on their lives, including Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
“These are things that ramp up our security measures,” said NYPD Chief of Intelligence Thomas Galati.
The presence of roughly 200 world leaders and diplomats who require Secret Service protection in the nation’s largest city means that, as usual, there will be street closures, traffic restrictions and protests.
“Since the end of last years General Assembly we have been planning how to best protect various sites and all the people inside them again this year,” said Police Commissioner James O’Neill. “At this time we have no direct concerns about terrorism for UNGA specifically, or New York City in general.”
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