Assassins may have made a binary weapon of Kim Jong-nam’s face

时间:2019-03-03 08:13:02166网络整理admin

MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty By Debora MacKenzie There has been a twist in the mystery of how the super-deadly nerve gas VX turned up on a man murdered at Kuala Lumpur airport last week, without the collateral damage that would normally be expected with such a deadly chemical. The attackers seem to have made a binary chemical weapon out of Kim Jong-nam’s face. Kim Jong-nam was the half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. He died last week in an ambulance after falling ill at Kuala Lumpur airport. Two women were seen on CCTV wiping his face with their hands before he sought medical help. Malaysian authorities later announced there were traces of VX gas on Kim’s face. VX is so lethal that minute amounts can sicken and kill. Yet the attackers survived, and no one in the airport or ambulance reported symptoms, mystifying chemical weapons experts. But with reports that one of the two attackers vomited afterwards, a possible cunning scheme is beginning to emerge. Because VX is so dangerous, chemical artillery shells and bombs meant to deliver it normally contain two separate chemicals, sulphur, and a complex but non-toxic compound called QL. In such “binary” weapons, these are blended at the last minute to make VX. The US and Russia both have stockpiles of such weapons which they are destroying under the Chemical Weapons Treaty. Vipin Narang at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has suggested that this is why two people were needed to attack Kim, and only one was ill afterwards. The first would have wiped a sulphur-containing liquid on his face. The second applied QL – and so would have picked up a little of the just-formed VX herself, even though both women immediately washed their hands. Vomiting is a classic symptom of such brief, minute exposure. The convulsions with which Kim later died are also consistent with a lethal exposure to VX. Read more: Was Kim Jong-nam killed by VX nerve gas? Doesn’t look like it More on these topics: