Kim Jong-nam murder: Malaysia says VX nerve agent used

Enough exposure leads to convulsions, paralysis, respiratory failure and death.

He did not give details about why the Malaysia authorities want to question So and did not provide information on where she is thought to be, except to say she did not come with him to Malaysia. "Roughly 1/100th of a gram, a third of a drop, on someone's skin, will kill them".

Malaysian authorities revealed that Kim Jong-nam, brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, was murdered with VX after being pounced on by assassins at Kuala Lumpur airport. It turned out to be better at killing people than pests, and was used as a nerve agent by several countries during the Cold War.

Fatal, and hard to find - VX is colorless and odorless, and given its toxicity, only small amounts are required.

Along with most other chemical weapons, VX was banned by an global treaty in 1997. But North Korea never signed that treaty, and has spent decades developing a complex chemical weapons program. But unlike its regular nuclear tests, Pyongyang has not flaunted its chemical weapons capability - until now. Seoul believes that Pyongyang has amassed as much as 5,000 tonnes of chemical weapons and is capable of deploying them in missiles or via artillery fire over the border at South Korean troops.

It is substantially more potent than the nerve agent Sarin, but works in a similar way.

The U.S. and Russian Federation are the only countries who openly admit to being in possession of the agent, but many other countries, including Syria, are believed to have stores of the gas.

It is classified by the United Nations as a weapon of mass destruction, can paralyse the nervous system and kill by suffocation within a half-hour after exposure either through direct skin contact or inhalation. VX can be transported in sealed containers, without affecting the person holding the chemical, experts say.

Malaysia's Selangor state police chief Abdul Samah Mat told reporters that investigators took "some samples" for analysis from the condo they raided on Thursday. Malaysian police said the attackers knew what they were doing and had been trained to go immediately to the bathroom and clean their hands.

It was unclear if those four were the four North Korean spies cited by South Korea's intelligence agency. However, North Korea continues to deny that it had anything to do with Kim Jong Nam's death and has accused South Korea of making "false reports". After falling out of favor with his father, Kim Jong Nam had lived in exile in Macau, a Chinese island known as a gambling mecca.

The search for the four escaped North Koreans identified as Rhi Ji Hyon, 33, Hong Song Hac, 34, O Jong Gil, 55, and Ri Jae Nam, 57 who fled Malaysia soon after the victim's death on Feb 13 is also being carried out with the assistance of Interpol.

  • Leroy Wright