The finding will add to the increasing evidence suggesting that Kim Jong Un’s regime in North Korea was behindlast week’s brazen and public attack on Kim Jong Nam, which South Korean officials have described as an apparent move by the young North Korean leader to get rid of a potential rival.
The incident, which took place at a busy airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, could also prove to be the final straw in a diplomatic vow between previously friendly Malaysia and North Korea, given that the regime in Pyongyang is now accused of using a certified chemical weapon on Malaysian territory.
As pointless as it may seem to point it out, this stuff is nasty.
VX, or O-ethyl S-(2-diisopropylaminoethyl) methylphosphonothiolate for short, is a colorless liquid nerve agent (not a gas) and a chemical weapon. Drops on the skin can wreak havoc on the nervous system and be enough to kill. VX can poison a person in food and water, or even sprayed as an aerosol—Kim Jong-nam’s assassins wiped it on his face, according to CNN.
The chemical was invented in 1952, by a pair of chemists who discovered it was really good at killing bugs. People soon realized VX would also be good at killing humans. Countries like Russia started synthesizing a slew of other chemically similar “V series” nerve agents, including VR, VE, and so forth. There was a Cold War to fight, after all!
Illo: Ben Mills