Kim Jong Nam had traces of a potent chemical weapon on his face and in his eyes at time of death, Malaysian police said Friday, citing toxicology test results.
The results appeared to confirmed widespread speculation that the estranged elder half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was poisoned by two women who approached him abruptly at a Kuala Lumpur area airport on Feb. 13, smeared liquid on his face and walked away.
In a statement, Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said results of preliminary tests conducted at Department of Chemistry Malaysia “indicate with certainty that the substance involved was Ethyl S-2-diisopropylaminoethyl methyl phosphonothiolate or ‘VX Nerve Agent.’”
The analysis was conducted on swabs of the victim’s eye mucus and face, Khalid said. “Other exhibits are still being analyzed,” he added.
According to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the chemical is a manmade chemical warfare agent that is odorless and tasteless and was developed in the United Kingdom in early 1950s.
“VX is the most potent of all nerve agents. Compared with the nerve agent Sarin (also known as GB), VX is considered to be much more toxic by entry through the skin and somewhat more toxic by inhalation,” the C.D.C. said on its website.
“Exposure to VX can cause death in minutes,” it said.
The United Nations classifies VX nerve agent as a chemical weapon of mass destruction and called for its elimination in the Chemical Weapons Convention, a multilateral arms control treaty that went into force 20 years ago.
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