Seoul to raise issue over Pyongyang’s bio-chemical weapons

Seoul, Feb 25 (IANS) South Korea has decided to raise its voice against North Korea’s possession of biochemical weapons in international meetings, Foreign Ministry officials said Saturday.

“The government will bring up the issue of North Korea’s biochemical weapons programmes when top nuclear envoys from South Korea, the US and Japan meet in Washington on Monday (February 27), as well as during various multilateral talks based in Geneva and other locations,” one official said.

The decision come in the wake of Kim Jong-nam, the eldest son of late former leader Kim Jong-il, death on Feb. 13 at an airport in Kuala Lumpur after apparently being poisoned by two Asian women. Malaysian police named eight North Koreans, including a diplomat, as suspects, though Pyongyang denies its involvement.

On Friday, the police announced that Kim Jong-nam was killed with a VX nerve agent. VX is listed as a weapon of mass destruction by the UN and its use is banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), to which North Korea is not a signatory.

“The government plans to take a tough stance on the killing of Kim Jong-nam,” the official said, adding “Things went out of control as the use of a chemical weapon was unveiled… The government is currently on the stage of trying to find the truth behind the case on the one hand and considering many different countermeasures on the other.”

The South Korean officials forecast that security threats from North Korea’s biochemical weapons programmes will likely be discussed during Monday’s talks along with its main topic, the country’s nuclear and missile programmes.

Seoul will also call for relisting Pyongyang as state sponsor of terrorism during the meeting, the officials added.

The South Korean military believes North Korea has up to 5,000 tonnes of chemical weapons stockpiled, the third largest after the US and Russia.