August 17, 2017

Kim Jong-nam killing: ‘VX nerve agent’ found on his face

baiKim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea’s leader, was killed by a highly toxic nerve agent, says Malaysia.
Mr Kim died last week after two women accosted him briefly in a check-in hall at a Kuala Lumpur airport.
Malaysian toxicology reports indicate he was attacked using VX nerve agent, which is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations.
There is widespread suspicion that North Korea was responsible for the attack, which it fiercely denies.
It responded furiously to Malaysia’s insistence on conducting a post-mortem examination and has accused Malaysia of having “sinister” purposes.
What does the toxicology report say?
Malaysia’s police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said on Friday that the presence of the nerve agent had been detected in swabs taken from Mr Kim’s eyes and face.
One of the women Mr Kim interacted with at the airport on 13 February had also fallen ill with vomiting afterwards, he added.
Mr Khalid said other exhibits were still under analysis and that police were investigating how the banned substance might have entered Malaysia.
“If the amount of the chemical brought in was small, it would be difficult for us to detect,” he said.
What is the deadly VX nerve agent?
Bruce Bennett, a weapons expert at the research institute the Rand Corporation, told the BBC it would have taken only a tiny amount of the substance to kill Mr Kim.
He suggests a small quantity of VX – just a drop – was likely to have been put on cloths used by the attackers to touch his face. A separate spray may have been used as a diversion.
Mr Khalid has previously said the fact the woman who accosted Mr Kim immediately went to wash her hands showed she was “very aware” that she had been handling a toxin.
It would have begun affecting his nervous system immediately, causing first shaking and then death within minutes.
Is Kuala Lumpur airport safe?
The authorities say they intend to decontaminate the airport and areas the suspects are known to have visited.
VX is a v-type nerve agent, which means the substance can remain lethal for a long period of time.
“It’s as persistent as motor oil. It’s going to stay there for a long time… which means anyone coming in contact with this could be intoxicated from it,” forensic toxicologist John Trestrail told the Associated Press news agency.
No passengers, airport workers or medical staff who treated Mr Kim were reported to have become ill in the aftermath of the incident, the news agency adds.
Tens of thousands of passengers are believed to have passed through the airport since the attack more than 10 days ago.
Who was Kim Jong-nam?
Jong-il, he was once considered a potential future leader. He has lived abroad for years and was bypassed in favour of his half-brother, Kim Jong-un.
He had been travelling on a passport under the name Kim Chol. North Korea has yet to confirm that the deceased was actually Kim Jong-nam.
Kim Jong-nam: North Korea’s critic in exile
How did he die?
A woman was seen in CCTV footage approaching Mr Kim and wiping something across his face. He sought medical help at the airport, saying someone had splashed or sprayed him with liquid.
He had a seizure and died on the way to hospital.
His body remains in the hospital’s mortuary, amid a diplomatic dispute over who should claim it.

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