March 14, 2017 7:05 am JST

North Korea suggests US, Seoul behind Kim Jong Nam assassination

Only 'a few countries' can manufacture nerve agent VX, ambassador claims

ARIANA KING, Nikkei staff writer

Kim In Ryong, the North Korean deputy ambassador to the United Nations, calls for an international forum on the legality of sanctions at a news conference Monday.

UNITED NATIONS -- The VX nerve agent suspected to have killed the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could have come from the U.S. via South Korea, Pyongyang's deputy ambassador to the United Nations suggested Monday during a news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York.

"We think it is well known the U.S. has stockpiled" numerous chemical weapons in South Korea, the deputy ambassador, Kim In Ryong, told reporters. "There are many possibilities that such a kind of a material could be introduced from South Korea, because VX could be only manufactured by a few countries, including the U.S."

Malaysian authorities say the estranged brother, Kim Jong Nam, died after being attacked with VX at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb. 13.

The North Korean ambassador referred to the victim as "Kim Chol," the name on his passport, and said North Korea was still investigating the case. The ambassador also questioned the evidence of the use of VX before suggesting where the deadly weapon might have come from in a hypothetical situation.

Referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the deputy ambassador suggested that the case is "the product of reckless moves of the U.S. and South Korean authorities aimed to meet the dangerous political purpose to tarnish the image of the dignified DPRK and bring down the social system in it." 

He asserted that North Korea would "be compelled to take strong measures for self-defense" in the face of continued "political chicanery" from the U.S. and South Korea.

North Korea convened Monday's news conference to appeal for an international forum of legal experts to discuss the legal grounds for U.N. Security Council sanctions. The country is currently subject to six sanctions resolutions -- including two rounds of sanctions from last year -- adopted by the council in response to Pyongyang's testing of prohibited weapons.

Pyongyang has asserted that its nuclear weapons program is in response to hostile policy from Washington and has railed against annual joint U.S.-South Korea military drills, currently underway.

"As long as the U.S. and its followers persist with their nuclear threat and blackmails against the DPRK, and as long as they do not give up the war exercise they stage under the cloak of annual drills right in front of the DPRK, the DPRK will continue to bolster the self-reliance defense capability and capability for the pre-emptive strike with nuclear force," Kim In Ryong said.

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