Sunday, March 5, 2017

Was Kim Jong-nam killed by VX nerve gas? Doesn’t look like it

Kim Jong-nam
Kim Jong-nam speaks to staff at the airport shortly before he died
Associated Press

Malaysian authorities announced today that they have identified VX nerve gas on the face and eyes of Kim Jong Nam, the exiled half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Kim Jon-nam was killed in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on 13 February.
Chemical weapons experts are mystified. “I have more questions than answers at this point,” says Richard Guthrie, formerly of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. VX is the most toxic substance known – 10 milligrams of the oily liquid on your skin, less than a drop, is lethal. But Kim took some time to show any symptoms, while the poison was handled by unprotected assailants, and didn’t contaminate other people.
The use of the chemical, if confirmed, narrows the list of suspects, however, to someone who has or can make a small amount of VX. It isn’t hard to make, but the precursor chemicals are tightly controlled.
North Korea, suspected of organising the killing, is widely thought to have chemical weapons. The International Crisis Group think tank estimates that the state stockpiles 2,500-5,000 tons, including nerve agents such as VX.
North Korea helped Syria build its chemical weapons stockpile, which included VX. It is one of only four countries not in the treaty banning chemical weapons.
VX has been used for assassination before, notably by the Japanese terrorist group Aum Shinrikyo, which made a small quantity and spritzed it onto the skin of victims using syringes.

Tell-tale symptoms

That is what makes Kim’s case so strange. VX is called a “nerve agent” because it inhibits the acetyl cholinesterase enzyme which breaks down acetylcholine, the chemical that transmits the signal to contract from nerves to muscles. If acetylcholine does not break down, muscles stay helplessly contracted, and victims die of paralysed breathing. They also go into convulsions, froth at the mouth, turn blue and display other tell-tale symptoms.
Malaysian police have said two women ambushed Kim in the Kuala Lumpur airport and wiped something on his face. Kim himself is said to have reported liquid smeared on his face that burned his eyes, when he went to the airport medical station for help.
CCTV footage shows a woman doing just that. But it then shows Kim walking apparently steadily to solicit help for several minutes, with none of the usual symptoms such as spasms or foaming at the mouth.
The attacker was handling a cloth with no apparent protection, not wielding a syringe. The women are then said to have run to a washroom to wash their hands, where one vomited. Both are consistent with VX. But nothing else seems to have happened to them, even though they were apprehended soon after.
“Any splash of a tiny droplet anywhere on her body would have resulted in some symptoms,” says chemical weapons expert Jean-Pascal Zanders . “She was jailed, but nothing like that was reported.”

No other victims

The attackers might have been pre-treated with atropine, a drug that blocks the effects of VX. But the medical staff who handled Kim in the ambulance where he later died – with convulsions, which is consistent with VX but also other poisons – would not have been pre-treated.
They should have been contaminated, which is common in incidents involving such chemicals, but are not known to have reported any VX symptoms. The chemical might have been enclosed in capsules that only released VX after being smeared on Kim’s face – but again medics should have been affected.
Moreover, if it was VX, the airport concourse should have been decontaminated, says Zanders. But Malaysian police told reporters on Friday that the concourse is only being cleaned now.
It is also possible that North Korea’s VX is losing its punch. It is thought to have been synthesised some years ago using precursors smuggled from abroad. Tighter controls on those chemicals may have prevented stocks from being replaced, and VX has a limited shelf life. Iraq’s VX, found by UN inspectors after the 1991 Gulf War, degraded rapidly in storage.
To be certain, says Zanders, samples from Kim’s remains should be sent to a lab certified by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons which enforces the chemical weapons treaty: there is one in neighbouring Singapore.
By Debora MacKenzie

1 comment:

MalaysianFirst said...

Salutations to Dian, and future readers,

Always take any information from WIKIPEDIA with "a pinch of salt".
I used to work abroad for many decades, in many industries.
The most interesting information, came from the R&D laboratory (been there for almost a decade).

Checking for information from WIKIPEDIA, is just a small step of many!
Verifying the information, will depend on various sources, most of them will be very MESSY!

With the proliferation of internet, searching for these information has been easier,
if you know what to look for!
Certain KEYWORDS will lead you to the answer, that you seek!

These keywords are in CAPITAL LETTERS enclosed by the " mark.
Type the CHEMICAL you are searching in your favorite web browser, just like below;
'chemical name" "LC50" "LD50" "MSDS"

Using the actual chemical name (scientific name) will lead closer to your answer.
LC50 means, the carcinogenic rate. At least fifty percent of the test subjects must show kind of signs of discomfort, rash, limping, etc.
LD50 means, the death rate rate. At least fifty percent of the test subjects must die.
The data will be tabulated based on amount of chemicals fed to the test subjects.
That amount is then divided by the test weight of the test subjects.
The usual amount will be recorded in milligrams per weight of the test subjects. (mg/kg)

LC50 of 10mg/kg means any test subject taking 10 miligram of the chemical, while weighing one kilogram, will yield certain discomfort, for fifty percent of the entire test subjects!
LD50 of 50mg/kg means any test subject taking 50 miligram of the chemical, while weighing one kilogram, will yield DEATH, for fifty percent of the test subjects!

Try searching for

The answer will ENLIGHTEN yourself, contrary to what your MINISTRY OF HEALTH is saying about the INDELIBLE INK (chemical name; silver nitrate)
Any adult weighing above 50kg, can drink the entire bottle of INDELIBLE INK and not die, at least according to theory!
One bottle, assuming 100 grams, of pure SILVER NITRATE, will not be enough to cause any death.

My professional reason; LC50 and LD50 has not been exceeded!
In the event of exceeding the limits, it will only cause CARCINOGENIC (LC50) or DEATH (LD50) for fifty percent of the test subjects, not one hundred percent of the test subjects, and the test subjects are not HUMANS, just a guideline!

Keep yourself educated!
Do not fall prey to any DERMAGOGUE!
With the falling education standards for the past few decades, expect lots of them, in the future!

Bye for now, JA NE (in Japanese)

Malaysians will remember Mahathir as the ONE WHO DESTROYED OUR ECONOMY