UN should suspend North Korea: Seoul

GENEVA - South Korea on Tuesday urged the United Nations to suspend its isolated northern neighbour, arguing that the assassination of Kim Jong-Nam showed Pyongyang was intent on using chemical weapons.

Speaking before the UN's Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se demanded "collective measures" against North Korea.

"The recent assassination is a wake-up call to all of us to North Korea's chemical weapons capability and its intent to actually use them," Yun told the gathering.

His comments came after the killing of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's half brother with VX, a fast-acting poison developed for warfare, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 13.

South Korea says its isolated neighbour was behind the assassination and claims the North's agents engaged two outsiders to carry out the murder.

Kim, a well-travelled polyglot who fell out of favour at home after a botched 2001 attempt to get into Japan on a false passport, died less than 20 minutes after two women appeared to push something in his face, according to CCTV footage.

Investigators say this was VX, a deadly poison classed as a weapon of mass destruction and banned around the world.

"VX is 100 times more lethal than sarin, the nerve agent that was used to kill and injure several thousand civilians at the 1995 Tokyo subway attack," Yun pointed out.

He said the assassination, carried out abroad and using a chemical weapon, "sent a very clear message to the world: Namely this impulsive, unpredictable, trigger-happy and brutal regime is ready and willing to strike anyone, anytime, anywhere."

"In the wake of this heinous act of using chemical weapons in Malaysia, we have to seriously consider what steps we should take in the coming weeks and months," Yun said, stressing it was time "to seriously consider taking extraordinary measures".

These could take the form of "suspension of North Korea's rights and privileges as a UN member," he added.

"If the Malaysian government conclusively finds that North Korean authorities are behind this criminal act, the Conference on Disarmament might need to question the membership of North Korea," he said, insisting that "serial rule-breakers should not be granted a seat".

Photo: Asia One