The chemical substance used to kill Kim Jong Nam was a VX nerve agent, an internationally-banned chemical weapon that can kill within minutes, according to a preliminary report by the Chemistry Department of Malaysia.
Kim, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, died on February 13 before he was scheduled to board a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Macau.
The two women suspects – one Vietnamese and the other Indonesian – are in police detention along with a North Korean man. One of the two women suspected of involvement in the poisoning vomited in police custody and was also suffering the effects of VX, which is only usually used in chemical warfare, the inspector general, Khalid Abu Bakar, said.
The findings followed a preliminary analysis of swabs taken from the face and eyes of Kim, the half-brother of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. More items linked to the attack at Kuala Lumpur airport were still being analysed, police said.
South Korean and U.S. officials have said they believe North Korean agents assassinated Kim Jong Nam. He had been living with his family in Macau under Beijing’s protection and had spoken out against the North Korean regime.
Leaked CCTV footage shows a woman grabbing his face. Malaysian police had said earlier that two attackers rubbed a liquid on him before walking away and quickly washing their hands.
Seoul’s foreign ministry said,
We are shocked by the latest revelation by the Malaysian authorities that VX … was used in the death of Kim Jong-nam. The use of any chemical weapons is strictly banned for any reason and in any place.
How VX toxin works?
VX is a nerve agent that: is an amber-colored liquid with the consistency of motor oil,dissolves in water and has no odor or taste. It overstimulates muscles, glands, and other tissues and can stop breathing. It works within minutes or hours, depending on the dose and can be lethal if it touches the skin, yet is more toxic if inhaled.
The full chemical name of O-Ethyl S-2-diisopropylaminoethyl methyl phosphonothiolate
Experts say it has no commercial uses.
This is not something you make in a kitchen lab. This is something that is made in a very sophisticated chemicals weapons lab,” said Bruce Bennet, a senior defense researcher at the California-based RAND Corporation.
North Korea is believed to have the world’s third-largest stockpile of chemical weapons, according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative project, which analyses weapons of mass destruction.
South Korean analysts have identified sarin and VX as the focus of the North Korean chemical weapons program.
VX in liquid form can be absorbed into the body through skin or eye contact and does not evaporate easily.
Have a look how VX toxin works on the body: