04:34 14 March 2017
N. Korean envoy claims VX gas could have come from S. Korea
NEW YORK, March 13, Kyodo
North Korean Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Kim In Ryong on Monday claimed that South Korea could have been the source of the deadly nerve agent VX that Malaysian authorities believe killed Kim Jong Nam last month in Kuala Lumpur.
"As far as the chemical weapons VX applied to the person is concerned, we think it is well known that (the) United States has a stockpile...including chemical weapons in South Korea and there are many possibilities that such a kind of material could be introduced from South Korea," he told reporters at a press conference.
Kim Jong Nam is the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, though North Korea has only referred to the deceased man as North Korean citizen Kim Chol, the name that appeared in the diplomatic passport he was traveling on.
Malaysian authorities suspect North Korea orchestrated the assassination of Kim Jong Un's half-brother, who is known to have criticized the country's hereditary succession, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb. 13, using the nerve agent VX.
"From A-Z this case is a product of reckless moves" by the United Stated and South Korea, Kim said, adding that officials from both countries are "groundlessly blaming the DPRK."
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the official name for North Korea.
Meanwhile, the U.N. special rapporteur on North Korea said Monday it could amount to an extrajudicial killing, which would open the door to international investigation.
The press conference was called to reject the move last week by the United Nations Security Council condemning the North's launch of four ballistic missiles on March 6, three of which landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone.
Kim claimed that the "ballistic rocket launching drill" is routine and justified as their "self-defensive right."
The latest spate of test-firings was prompted by the start of the joint military drills that are undertaken annually by the United States and South Korea. While Washington and Seoul view them as routine, the North sees them as a grave threat.
Last week, China's foreign minister had proposed the so-called "freeze for freeze" plan as a possible way of easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. It would mean that in exchange for North Korea stopping its ballistic and missile tests that the United States and South Korea would end the annual drills.
When asked about the feasibility of such a plan, Kim claimed that it was North Korea's proposal in 2015 and that it had not been given consideration.
"As far as I know, it was rejected the same day," he said, adding that if the drills were not stopped "the DPRK will continue to bolster the self-reliance defense capability."