The estranged half brother of North Korea’s leader had about 1.4 times the lethal dosage of VX nerve agent on his face after he was attacked at a Malaysian airport, a government chemist testified today. Pure VX was on Kim Jong Nam’s body, in his eye and in his blood plasma, government chemist Raja Subramaniam said at the murder trial of two women accused of smearing the chemical weapon on Kim in the brazen assassination in February. VX was also detected on the clothes both women wore the day of the attack. The trial yesterday had temporarily moved to a high-security laboratory for the judge, attorneys and the defendants to examine the clothing before it was presented as evidence.
Resuming his testimony today, Raja described the lethal potential of VX. He said animal studies showed the lethal dosage is 0.142 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, and that 50 percent of the tested population will die when exposed to this dosage on their skin. Raja estimated the concentrate on Kim’s facial skin was 0.2 milligram per kilogram of body weight. Asked if the VX concentrate found on Kim’s face was enough to kill him, Raja said: “I can’t give a direct answer on this. Based on concentrate estimate, it is about 1.4 times the lethal dosage.” He said the estimated VX concentrate on Kim’s eye was only 0.03 milligrams per kilogram of his body weight, but that correlated to VX penetrating faster through the eye than through the skin.
VX was also on the collar and sleeves of his blazer, probably because Kim wiped his face on his blazer after the attack, Raja said. After prosecutors concluded their questioning, defense attorneys were cross-examining the chemist. His finding of VX on the women’s clothing was the first evidence linking VX to the two suspects. Their attorneys have said the women were duped by suspected North Korean agents into believing they were playing a harmless prank for a hidden camera TV show. Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam pleaded not guilty at the start of the trial last week to charges of murder that carry a mandatory death sentence if they are convicted.
Prosecutors have also said they will present airport security videos this week that show the two women carrying out the attack and indicate they knew they were handling poison. VX is banned by an international treaty as a weapon of mass destruction but is believed to be part of North Korea’s chemical weapons arsenal. Kim was the eldest son in the current generation of North Korea’s dynastic rulers but lived in virtual exile as an apparent family outcast. North Korea experts say he may have been killed because he was perceived as a threat to the nation’s current leader, his younger sibling, Kim Jong Un.
An airport security video reviewed by The Associated Press on Monday shows what may be Kim’s final recorded moments of life after he fell perilously ill at the Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb. 13. The video shows Kim apparently unconscious on a gurney and being given oxygen by medical attendants waiting for an elevator to take him to an ambulance. The scene in the video appears almost casual, in contrast to the dramatic news of his death once it was made public. The video was first broadcast late Sunday by Japan’s Fuji TV.