Exporting North Korean terrorismMalaysian police announced that the poison used at Kuala Lumpur airport to kill Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was VX nerve agent, a type of internationally banned chemical weapon.
The police said the toxic chemical substance was detected in the swabs of the deceased’s eyes and face. The investigation so far implicated a North Korean diplomat in Malaysia and concluded the four North Koreans suspected to have been involved in the assassination have returned home.
The findings so far suggest that Pyongyang ordered the murder of the estranged brother of its ruler. If true, the incident lays bare the hideous brutality of the Kim Jong-un regime.
The odorless and colorless VX nerve agent developed by the British in 1952 is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations. As little as 10 milligrams can instantly kill humans. Its toxicity is 100 times stronger than the sarin gas that killed 12 and injured more than 4,000 in a Tokyo subway line when it was released by members of a cult movement in 1995. When spread in the form of gas or liquid, it can last for months during winter.
What is appalling is that North Korea has used a chemical weapon in a terrorist act. Other terrorism groups could emulate the North Korean act. North Korea is known to have chemical weapons amounting from 3,000 tons to 5,000 tons. It could threaten the world if Pyongyang sells any of these weapons to Islamic militants or other extremists to secure hard cash. North Korea is beyond international surveillance as it is not bound by the Chemical Weapons Convention. The international community has been entirely focused on North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities.
But it must take strong action to contain North Korea’s chemical weapons threat. The government must take steps immediately to protect the country from chemical weapons dangers.
JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 25, Page 26
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