Kim Jong Nam murder: Police say chemical weapon VX nerve agent used in killing

The body of the North Korean national has been still unclaimed in a Kuala Lumpur hospital.

Kim Jong Nam murder: Police says chemical weapon VX nerve agent used in killing
Malaysia's Royal Police Chief Khalid Abu Bakar (C) speaks next to a screen showing North Korean Hyon Kwang Song during a news conference regarding the apparent assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of the North Korean leader, at the Malaysian police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 22, 2017. Reuters

Malaysian police said on Friday that according to an initial investigation report, the murder of Kim Jong Nam was carried out with a highly toxic chemical known as VX nerve agent. Khalid Abu Bakar, the Inspector General of Malaysia, said in a media release that the substance was identified by the Centre for Chemical Weapons in its preliminary analysis. The authorities said swabs were taken from the eye and the face of the deceased for the purpose of investigation. "Other exhibits are under analysis," Khalid added in the statement.

A report by the chemistry department of Malaysian police identified the substance as ethyl S-2-Diisopropylaminoethyl methylphosphonothiolate (or VX nerve agent). VX is tasteless and odourless, and is outlawed under the Chemical Weapons Convention, except for "research, medical or pharmaceutical purposes". It is a chemical weapon which has been used as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations.

According to the U.S. Army's Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, VX is one of the most toxic known nerve agents in the world. It can be manufactured as a liquid, cream or aerosol and is highly fatal if absorbed in large doses.

Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was allegedly killed by two women who splashed his face with a chemical at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 departure hall at about 9 am on 13 February, when he was about to leave for Macau. However, the body of the North Korean national remains unclaimed in a Kuala Lumpur hospital till date.

Jong Nam's passport identifies him as "Kim Chol", but police need DNA, medical and dental records to confirm his actual identity. Earlier in a statement, Khalid said a Vietnamese woman and an Indonesian woman wiped a liquid on Kim Jong Nam's face by grabbing him from behind. Later, they washed their hands and fled the scene.

Japanese broadcaster Fuji TV broadcasted airport camera footage on Monday showing the moment when the women appeared to assault Kim Jong Nam. The footage also showed the victim asking airport officials for medical help. He died on the way to the hospital.

On Thursday, Malaysia requested Interpol to put an alert out to apprehend four North Korean suspects in the murder. Apart from those two women, the police have also arrested a North Korean man and are hunting for another seven in connection with the murder.