Use of nerve gas in Kim Jong-nam killing causes increased international pressure on North Korea

Posted on : 2017-03-01 13:34 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
US could again designate North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism, after removing designation in 2008
From left to right
From left to right

Following the Malaysian government’s official announcement that Kim Jong-nam, half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was killed with the VX nerve gas, the international community has gradually been intensifying its diplomatic pressure on North Korea.

“I’ve heard from the Americans that they’ve begun reviewing the option of designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism once again,” said a senior South Korean government official during a meeting with foreign correspondents in Washington, DC, on Feb. 27. The official was in the US for deliberations with the senior envoys to the Six-Party Talks from South Korea, the US and Japan. “The US has periodically reviewed this option since removing North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism in 2008, but this time I’m told that the review was launched because of the killing of Kim Jong-nam,” the official said.

When asked whether there was a high likelihood of North Korean being put back on the list, the official said, “it’s hard to stay at the current stage. Even if it were designated as a state sponsor of terrorism again, the effect would be largely symbolic, without any new sanctions.”

North Korea was designated as a state sponsor of terrorism the year after it blew up Korean Air Flight 858 in 1987, but the designation was removed in 2008 after it detonated the cooling tower at its nuclear facility in Yongbyon and agreed to nuclear inspections.

“This option is being carefully considered because it’s thought that there’s a high likelihood of North Korea launching an ICBM,” the source added in regard to current developments.

While attending a UN disarmament conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on Feb. 28, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se called for a joint response against North Korea, including a “suspension of North Korea's rights and privileges as a UN member,” Reuters reported. "North Korea is reported to have not just grams but thousands of tonnes of chemical weapons including VX all over the country,” Yun was quoted as saying in the report.

The UK and other states also hinted that they could initiate discussion in the UN about the use of VX, AFP reported on Feb. 27. Matthew Rycroft, British ambassador to the UN, told reporters on Feb. 27 that Malaysia should send any evidence of the use of VX, if it has any, to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and to the UN Security Council. This is taken to mean that the issue should be discussed at the Security Council after the evidence has been reviewed by the OPCW.

As the body responsible for implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention, which has 192 member countries, the OPCW is responsible for investigating and inspecting the production and use of chemical weapons.

“Any use of chemical weapons is deeply disturbing. OPCW stands ready to provide its expertise and technical assistance, if required,” the OPCW said in a statement on Feb. 24.

By Yi Yong-in, Washington correspondent

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