South Korea has called for “collective measures” to punish North Korea for allegedly using chemical weapons to kill the estranged half-brother of DPRK leader Kim Jong-un.
Kim Jong-nam was killed at Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13 after two women smeared his face with VX nerve agent, according to Malaysian police. The UN considers VX to be a weapon of mass destruction.
“Many international media pointed out that North Korea’s use of chemical weapons for the targeted killing in a third country sent a very clear message to the world,” South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se told a Geneva forum on Tuesday.
Namely this impulsive, unpredictable, trigger-happy and brutal regime is ready and willing to strike anyone, anytime, anywhere.
Yun said the use of chemical weapons was a “wake-up call,” and called for the possible suspension of the DPRK’s seat at the United Nations.
Under the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons states parties can “in cases of particular gravity” bring an issue to the attention of the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly.
The UN Security Council can recommend to the 193-member General Assembly that a state be suspended or expelled. Such a move would need to be approved by two-thirds majority of the General Assembly.
North Korea said on Tuesday it “categorically rejects” what it called “fictitious and preposterous assumptions.”
China calls for restraint
China urged calm and restraint on Wednesday after South Korea called for the UN sanctions on the DPRK.
“What I need to say is that the situation at present on the Korean peninsula is complex and sensitive,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, when asked whether North Korea should be suspended from the United Nations.
“In this situation, we hope all sides can maintain calm and exercise restraint and not do anything to irritate each other or that may raise regional tensions,” Geng said.
While China is North Korea’s most important remaining international supporter, it has been angered by its repeated missile and nuclear tests and has supported tough UN sanctions.
When he was killed, Kim Jong-nam had been living in exile under Beijing’s protection in the Chinese territory of Macau, and had criticised the regime of his family and half-brother, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Malaysia charges female suspects
Malaysia on Wednesday charged two women – an Indonesian and a Vietnamese – in connection with Kim’s murder.
Siti Aishah, a 25-year-old mother of one from Jakarta, and Doan Thi Huong, 28, from rural northern Vietnam, could be hanged if they are convicted for the killing.
Police brought the two women to court handcuffed. As they left, they were made to wear bullet-proof vests, reflecting Malaysian authorities’ fears that others involved in the killing could want the women silenced.
No plea was recorded after the charges were read out against them.
Malaysian police are also holding one North Korean man and have identified seven other North Koreans wanted in the case.