Kim Jong-nam killing: Malaysia condemns use of chemical weapon
Malaysia ramped up the pressure on Pyongyang today, issuing a statement condemning the use of a banned toxic chemical weapon in the killing of the half brother of North Korea's leader.
Malaysia has not directly accused North Korea of being behind the February 13 killing of Kim Jong Nam, but the statement from the Foreign Ministry comes hours after a North Korean envoy rejected a Malaysian autopsy finding that VX nerve agent killed Kim, saying the man probably died of a heart attack because he suffered from heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
The statement from Malaysia's Foreign Ministry said it was "greatly concerned" with the use of the toxic chemical and condemned the use of such a chemical weapon under any circumstances.
"Its use at a public place could have endangered the general public," said.
The death of Kim, the estranged half brother of North Korea's ruler, has unleashed a diplomatic battle between Malaysia and North Korea. The autopsy is especially sensitive because North Korea had asked Malaysia not to perform one, but authorities said they had to under the law.
Also yesterday, amid growing fallout from the killing, Malaysia announced it is scrapping visa-free entry for North Koreans.
Malaysian officials say two women smeared VX nerve agent a banned chemical weapon on Kim's face as he waited for a flight at Kuala Lumpur's airport on February 13. Kim died within 20 minutes, authorities say. No bystanders reported falling ill.
The women, who were caught on grainy surveillance video, have been charged with murder. Both say they were duped into thinking they were playing a harmless prank.
Malaysia's autopsy finding that VX nerve agent killed Kim boosted speculation that North Korea orchestrated the attack.
Experts say the oily poison was almost certainly produced in a sophisticated state weapons laboratory. North Korea has denied any role and accused Malaysia of bias.
Yesterday, Ri Tong Il, a former North Korean deputy ambassador to the United Nations, told a news conference that it made no sense to say the two women used such a deadly toxin without also killing or sickening themselves and people around them.
Ri said Kim had a history of heart problems and had been hospitalised in the past. He said he understood that Malaysian officials found medication for diabetes, heart problems and high blood pressure in Kim's belongings and concluded he wasn't fit to travel.
"This is a strong indication that the cause of death is a heart attack," Ri said.
North Korea does not acknowledge that it was Kim Jong Nam who died. Instead, it refers to the victim as Kim Chol, the name on the diplomatic passport he was carrying. Malaysia has confirmed that the victim was Kim Jong Nam.
National police chief Khalid Abu Bakar brushed off Ri's claim of a heart attack.