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GSN_Mar_YUMPU

North Korea used binary

North Korea used binary form of “VX”, “VX2” in assassination of Kim Jong-nam by George Lane, Director Chemical Security Using “VX2”, the binary form of “VX”, an extremely toxic nerve agent, in an international airport in the heart of Asia, North Korea sent a very clear message to the world that it will find and strike its enemies anywhere in the world. Kim Jong-nam, half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was in Malaysia assassinated with “VX” found on his face on February 11. Kim was able to walk home, but about half an hour later realized everything seemed to be dark, an effect of nerve agents causing his pupils to shrink. He started feeling hot and, sweating, and took off his clothes. He had a seizure and died on the way to hospital. The “V” in “VX” stands for “venom”, a tribute to its high potency and a characteristic ability to penetrate the skin. The two components of “VX2” were applied separately and in sequence by two women at the airport. Police arrested a Vietnamese and an Indonesian woman suspected of smearing the chemicals on Kim’s face. Authorities reported that one of the women suspected of applying the nerve agent experienced some physical symptoms of “VX” poisoning. The Indonesian woman said she was paid $90 to apply a baby oil-like liquid to his face in what she believed was a “prank” as part of a reality show. While both said they were duped into the attack, Malaysian police say she and the other female suspect, a Vietnamese 12 woman who also is in custody, knew what they were doing because they were caught washing their hands immediately after the attack. In Malaysia’s underworld, these two “good time girls” admitted they had worked in massage parlors and made themselves easy targets for North Korean agents looking for women who could assume harmless identities for the deadly roles for which they were needed. Because “VX” fumes would have killed the suspected at- Image from a CCTV footage of one of the woman at Image from a CCTV footage appears to show (circled in red) a man purported to be Kim Jong Nam being accosted by a woman in a white shirt at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Image from a CCTV footage appears to show (circled in red) a man purported to be Kim Jong

tackers tackers even if they had been wearing gloves, this indicates that “VX2” was applied as a binary weapon with two non-fatal components that would produce “VX” only on the victim’s face. North Korea wanted the West to know what it is capable of, but without causing mass casualties. They wanted everyone, especially the U.S., to know they used “VX”. Doing it publicly but not killing anyone else is a very visual way to reveal that capability and deterrent. Kim’s assassination is an insult to China, which had protected him for years by allowing him to live in the Chinese territory of Macau. This is clearly an embarrassment for the Chinese state security and to a lesser extent to the Malaysian government. Kim’s assassination has frayed relations between North Korea and Malaysia, which this week recalled its ambassador from Pyongyang. After North Korea’s ballistic missile launch and the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, China, announced it would ban all coal imports from North Korea, and according to CBS News was preparing for “regime collapse” in North Korea, and according to a defense official would “take the necessary measures to safeguard national security in the event of the collapse of the neighboring North Korean regime”. The economic impact of suspending coal imports would be severe and may force Pyongyang to the negotiating table. China imported about $1.89 billion of coal from North Korea last year, a significant proportion of the $2.5 billion in total Chinese imports from North Korea that year. Binary nerve agents In the 1950s, the U.S. Army began to develop “binary” nerve agent weapons to provide increased safety during storage and handling. In “unitary” agents, the chemicals were produced together. Because the nerve agents are highly toxic, storage, handling, and deployment 13 need to be performed with extreme caution. Unitary weapons therefore pose a risk to people who work with the chemicals. Binary weapon development began in the 1960s. Binary weapons involve non-toxic precursors that can be loaded in munitions. Once deployed, the precursors mix and produce the nerve agent. “VX and VX2” “VX2” is the name for “VX” formed in binary reactions. “VX2”, binary “VX”, is formed by the reaction of an organophosphate compound with Sulfur. The chemicals used to produce the binary nerve agents

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