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Sunday, March 11, 2018

The US version of Kim Jong Nam's death


The US State Department had made the decision in February on the death of Kim Jong-Nam, but it was not made public until this week, a little over a year after Kim was murdered. The statement explicitly says that the United States determined that the Government of North Korea used the chemical warfare agent VX to assassinate Kim Jong Nam, in the Kuala Lumpur airport.

Maybe when it was less expected, the United States has accused Pyongyang of using the chemical warfare agent VX to assassinate Kim Jong Un's stepbrother, North Korean leader Kim Jong Nam, and has imposed sanctions on the country, the US State Department reported Tuesday. The spokeswoman of the Department of State, Heather Nauert, has assured through a statement that the Government of the United States made the decision on February 22 under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991. “The United States strongly condemns the use of chemical weapons to conduct an assassination.

This public display of contempt for universal norms against chemical weapons use further demonstrates the reckless nature of North Korea and underscores that we cannot afford to tolerate a North Korean WMD program of any kind”, reads the statement.

According to the results of the autopsy, Kim Jong Nam was killed with the chemical warfare agent VX and died within 20 minutes of being exposed to the lethal toxin. Kim Jong Nam died at the Kuala Lumpur airport after being sprayed with VX in liquid form. The VX is an extremely toxic substance with very rapid effect, considered a weapon of mass destruction by Resolution 687 of the United Nations and whose production and storage is prohibited by the Convention on Chemical Weapons. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of the US Government, the symptoms of poisoning by VX appear "a few seconds" after being exposed to the agent in a gaseous state, and between several minutes and up to 18 hours if it is in the liquid form. Of the known nerve agents, VX is the most potent, even more than sarin gas. Its toxicity is greater if it comes into contact with the skin and, even more so if it is by inhalation.

The timing of this announcement seems just wrong as Pyongyang has offered to freeze its nuclear and missile programs if the US begins direct talks on an agreement that would eventually see a nuclear-free Korean peninsula. Donald Trump tweeting: “Possible progress being made in talks with North Korea” does not really mean that the relation between the US and North Korea have changed. It remains to be delicate. So far, the regime has denied it was involved in Kim Jong-Nam's death and analysts believe this could disrupt diplomatic efforts.