Kim Jong-nam murder: Malaysia condemns chemical weapon
Kuala Lumpur, March 3 (IANS) Malaysia on Friday condemned the use of a toxic substance listed as a chemical weapon in the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, one day after Pyongyang attributed his death to a heart attack.
The Malaysian Foreign Ministry expressed great concern over the use of VX nerve agent that killed Kim only few minutes after two women sprayed his face with the substance on February 13 at the Kuala Lumpur airport, Efe news reported.
“The Ministry strongly condemns the use of such a chemical weapon by anyone, anywhere and under any circumstances. Its use at a public place could have endangered the general public,” it said in a statement said.
The statement was issued after the head of a North Korean delegation, which arrived in Malaysia on Tuesday to claim the body, denied that the victim was killed with the VX nerve agent.
The envoy and former North Korean ambassador to the UN, Ri Tong Il, said that the deceased had a medical history of heart problems and there are strong indications that he died of a heart attack.
Ri also challenged Malaysian authorities to send samples of VX agent to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) if the cause of death was this nerve agent.
The ministry responded that Malaysia “has fully cooperated” with the OPCW in this case and that the organization has provided technical assistance to the Malaysian authorities’ investigation.
The ministry also indicated that Malaysia does not produce, stock, import or export any toxic substances as listed on the Chemical Weapons Convention, including VX, and that Malaysia has been subjected to regular checks by international inspectors.
Malaysian authorities, however, have not yet formally identified Kim Jong-nam – who was travelling with a diplomatic passport in the name of Kim Chol – as they are still waiting to be able to match the DNA with that of a family member.
South Korea has identified the victim as Kim Jong-un’s half-brother and attributed the crime to North Korean agents, while Pyongyang questioned the police investigation and accused the Malaysian authorities of conspiring with its enemies.
The two women involved in the case, one Indonesian and the other Vietnamese, were formally charged with murder on Wednesday despite their claims they had been hired to prank the victim for a television show.
Malaysian police believe the two had been recruited by four other North Koreans who fled to Pyongyang on the same day of the crime and who Malaysia has already sought to locate with assistance from Interpol.
In addition, Malaysian authorities plan to deport a third detainee, North Korean chemist Ri Jong Chol, after he was released without any charge on Thursday.