The deadly nerve agent VX was used in the murder of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s brother, investigators in Malaysia said on Friday.
Analysis of swabs from Kim Jong Nam’s eyes and face found VX, a chemical weapon, according to a preliminary report.
It is described by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “the most potent of all nerve agents”, with a large dose leading to loss of consciousness, paralysis and respiratory failure. Its only known use is as a chemical warfare agent.
Kim, half-brother of the North Korean leader, was attacked at Kuala Lumpur airport last Monday by two women who smeared liquid on his face. He complained of dizziness and collapsed on the way to hospital.
VX is banned under the UN Chemical Weapons Convention, to which North Korea is not a party.
The nerve agent, also known as ethyl N-2-Diisopropylaminoethyl Methylphosphonothiolate, was developed in the UK in the 1950s.
Malaysian police are seeking at least four North Korean suspects in connection with the murder, who are now believed to be back in Pyongyang. Two other North Korean nationals, including a diplomat in Malaysia, are wanted for questioning.
Police have detained a Vietnamese woman, an Indonesian woman and a North Korean man in connection with Kim’s death.
The murder has frayed relations between North Korea and Malaysia, which this week recalled its ambassador from Pyongyang.
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