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North Korea Lets Loose a Weapon of Mass Destructio

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arirish View Drop Down
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    Posted: February 24 2017 at 1:27pm
In Kim Jong-nam’s Death, North Korea Lets Loose a Weapon of Mass Destruction

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — For years, North Korea has rattled the world with its nuclear tests and its threats to visit a nuclear holocaust upon the United States. Now, the finding by the Malaysian police that Kim Jong-nam was assassinated with VX nerve agent is a stark reminder of the North’s lesser-known weapons of mass destruction: a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons.

Mr. Kim, the estranged elder brother of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, was killed on Feb. 13 when two women rubbed his face with the nerve agent at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, the police said on Friday.

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If North Korean nationals were indeed behind the killing, as Malaysian officials suggest, the use of VX raises several questions: Was the North Korean government using the attack to signal to the world its fearsome arsenal of such dangerous weapons? Or was the toxin simply an attempt to avoid detection in carrying out a brazen killing at one of the world’s busiest airports?


“By using VX in an international airport in the heart of Asia, North Korea has sent a very clear message to the world that it will strike its enemies anywhere in the world,” said Rohan Gunaratna, an expert on terrorism at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. “It also demonstrates the North Korean response in the event of an attack against North Korea.”

North Korea’s nuclear program has long been the most urgent concern of the United States and its allies, and the now-dormant six-party talks to curb the program did not address chemical and biological weapons.

“The reported use of VX reminds us that not only is the North’s nuclear-missile threat serious but so are its asymmetric threats, including biochemical weapons and cyber that are all part of the regime’s W.M.D. tool kit,” said Duyeon Kim, a Seoul-based nonresident fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Friday expressing “shock” at the use of a chemical weapon and vowed to work with the international society to deal “strongly” with the violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The deadly use of a chemical weapon banned by international conventions in a such a public manner could strengthen calls for the United States to put North Korea back on a list of terrorism-sponsoring countries, analysts said.

The North was first put on the terrorist list after its bombing of a South Korean airliner near Myanmar in 1987, killing all 115 people onboard. But the United States delisted the country in 2008 as part of an agreement aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear programs — a deal that has since disintegrated with the North’s subsequent missile and nuclear weapons tests.

After his announcement that Mr. Kim had been killed by VX nerve agent, Khalid Abu Bakar, the inspector general of the Malaysian police, said on Friday that small amounts of the poison could have been brought into the country without being discovered.

“If the amount of the chemical brought in was small, it would be difficult for us to detect,” Mr. Khalid told reporters.

The airport terminal, which handles more than two million passengers a month, will be decontaminated despite the passage of time since the killing, he said.

Two women have been arrested in the killing, one from Indonesia and the other from Vietnam. Their defenders say they were duped into carrying out the attack and thought it was a prank, but Mr. Khalid said they had trained for the attack and practiced it at two major shopping malls. The women used their bare hands to apply the poison on Mr. Kim’s face and washed them immediately afterward, he said.

One drop of VX, or about 10 milligrams, can be fatal. But the attackers could have used a safety-enhancing battlefield form of the agent. Known as VX2, it is divided into two compounds that are harmless individually but become lethal when mixed together.

Each component also could have been made in slow-release form, as is done with many drugs.

If Mr. Kim’s two assassins had each applied one component of VX, this would explain why two assassins were needed, how they survived the attack, and perhaps why it took 15 minutes or more for Mr. Kim to die.

“Use of a binary nerve agent lends itself to this method and allows for a potentially highly targeted hit,” said Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has two degrees in chemical engineering.

The woman who applied the second compound would have risked exposing herself to the first component, which could explain why, as Mr. Khalid said on Friday, one of the women became ill and began vomiting after the attack.

This scenario raises the possibility that Mr. Kim could have saved his own life by immediately washing his face rather than going to airport staff members, as he did, to report the attack.

Mr. Narang said it was clear that North Korea wanted the West to know what it is capable of — but without causing mass casualties.

“They wanted everyone, especially the U.S., to know it was VX and that they can make it or have it,” he said. “Doing it publicly but not killing anyone else is a pretty good way to reveal that capability and deterrent.”

In 2014, the South Korean Defense Ministry said the North had stockpiled 2,500 to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons and had a capacity to produce a variety of biological weapons.

Kim Jong-un has a history of resorting to extreme measures against his enemies. Since taking power after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in 2011, he has executed at least 140 senior officials, sometimes killing them with antiaircraft machine guns and even incinerating some of their bodies with flamethrowers, according to the Institute for National Security Strategy, a think tank affiliated with South Korea’s National Intelligence Service. Such measures were designed as a warning to others, South Korean officials said.

Lee Byong-chul, a nonproliferation expert at the Institute for Peace and Cooperation in Seoul, said the use of VX nerve agent highlights the proliferation threat posed by North Korea, noting that it has been accused of providing chemical weapons technology to Syria since the 1990s.

Shipments of gas masks, gas detectors and other protective gear bound for Syria from North Korea were intercepted in 2009 and 2013.

If confirmed, Mr. Lee said, the use of VX nerve agent by North Korea will very likely weaken the Trump administration’s appetite for reopening nuclear disarmament talks, especially after its recent test of what it called a new type of intermediate-range ballistic missile.

China has been the most vocal proponent of new negotiations, but its relations with North Korea have deteriorated sharply. Pyongyang criticized Beijing this week as “dancing to the tune of the U.S.”

Steve Vickers, a security consultant based in Hong Kong, said that Mr. Kim’s assassination will be seen as a further insult to China, which had protected him for years by allowing him to live in the Chinese territory of Macau.

“This is clearly an embarrassment for the Chinese state security and to a lesser extent to the Malaysian government,” he said.




http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/in-kim-jong-nam%e2%80%99s-death-north-korea-lets-loose-a-weapon-of-mass-destruction/ar-AAnk2V7?li=BBnb7Kz&OCID=DELLDHP
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CRS, DrPH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 25 2017 at 11:51am
Thanks!  This was an interesting and chilling development.  I've trained long and hard for use of nerve agents against the US public, and VX is always one of the worst actors we train for. 

One droplet the size of a pin-head will kill an adult male.  

The attackers may have used a "binary" formulation on their hands, perhaps one attacker using one and the other using the complimentary formula.  

This has a great deal of interesting information on the agent and on this attack:

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote jacksdad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 25 2017 at 3:43pm
It's looking more and more like that was the way it was delivered, Chuck. The first women suffered no ill effects, but the second exposed herself to both compounds during the attack and was reportedly vomiting afterwards.

Time to add atropine to our preps...?





*your link wasn't working so I fixed it - JD
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dutch Josh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 25 2017 at 9:25pm
“By using VX in an international airport in the heart of Asia, North Korea has sent a very clear message to the world that it will strike its enemies anywhere in the world,” said Rohan Gunaratna, an expert on terrorism at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. “It also demonstrates the North Korean response in the event of an attack against North Korea.” to quote the article. 

Superstation had a good article on China-North Korea relations https://www.superstation95.com/index.php/world/3316">https://www.superstation95.com/index.php/world/3316. China may be able to organize power change inside North Korea. (DJ: Maybe even make North Korea a sort of Chinese province-strategical it would give China more control over the Japanese and Yellow Sea, better trading position with South Korea and warn Taiwan, Japan and the US. Russia and China-both with landborders on North Korea-will be discussing their position. See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yanbian_Korean_Autonomous_Prefecture A part of China close to North Korea with large Korean population. ) 
Que sera, sera, Whatever will be, will be, The future is not ours to see, Que sera, sera !
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CRS, DrPH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 25 2017 at 10:00pm
^I'd welcome if China wanted to tackle North Korea, as it would absorb their attention and resources and distract them from regional aggression.  

I don't know that the North Korean populace, militarized for decades, would go along quietly if their Supreme Leader said No.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dutch Josh Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 26 2017 at 1:54am
On China-North Korea relations (DPRK only can exist because of China):

If China fully follows through on the suspension, the North Korean economy could take a significant hit. North Korea is strongly dependent on income from the coal and minerals it sells to China. Around 90 percent of North Korea’s trade occurs with China, and out of that, 40 percent consists of coal and minerals, according to figures from last fall.

https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-02-15/north-koreas-trade-china-has-grown-tenfold-15-years-which-gives-china-more At the same time, North Korea became more dependent on Chinese trade. In 2015, 91 percent of its trade was with its big neighbor, a huge jump from 57 percent in 2006.

Armed with such leverage, why does Beijing seem unable to restrain an increasingly aggressive North Korea? 

Chad O'Carroll, the founder of NK News, an US-based news site covering North Korea, said trade grew because UN sanctions target weapons and not overall trade. UN officials don’t want to deepen the humanitarian crisis in North Korea, where an estimated 60 percent of the population, or 15 million people, don't have reliable access to food.

"All the sanctions have to be targeted towards the leadership and those involved in special weapon programs only," O'Carroll says.

O'Carroll said Beijing's No. 1 priority is stability when it comes to North Korea.

“[Beijing] doesn’t want to increase pressure on the leadership of Pyongyang that could lead to unforeseen consequences that may impact neighboring regions of China," O'Carroll said.

For example, a collapse of the North Korean regime could lead to an influx of refugees into China.


Among some of China’s elite, however, there is creeping dissatisfaction with the way that the DPRK is becoming a pariah state that often works at crosspurposes to China’s national interests. This article explores the relationship between the two countries, and its likely development in the coming years.

(DJ):There is a lot more to google on the China-North Korea relationship. https://nkleadershipwatch.wordpress.com/ China can make demands on North Korea-get some sort of control. A Chinese goal might be not "regime-change" (because that would create room for the US on her regime-change policy) but "regime controll" with Kim Jung Un as the North Korean "leader" (surrounded by Chinese/Korean advisors) opening the door for Chinese investments. 

The U.Sgives low priority to North Korea when it comes to diplomatic issues
Instead oftaking substantive measuresthe former hopes the situation in North Korea 
will bechanged by outside sanctionsDong saidadding that South Korea should be aware 
of thefact that its interests do not line up with those of the U.SSouth Korea should 
directlynegotiate with North Korea rather than engaging the U.S.-ROK allianceaccording toDong.

To guarantee the safety and stability of the Korean Peninsulaand to resolve the 

securityconcerns of all parties involvedNorth Korea must make clear its stance on 

the nuclearissue and move forward with denuclearizationDong suggested

Que sera, sera, Whatever will be, will be, The future is not ours to see, Que sera, sera !
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jacksdad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 26 2017 at 7:52am
I'm sure Kim Jong-nam's psychopathic little brother fully understood the significance of China protecting someone who could one day be used to overthrow him. Once his father's heir apparent, Kim Jong-nam was ideally placed to replace Kim Jong-un if he started to become too uncontrollable, and killing him in the way they did on foreign soil shows that North Korea is clearly becoming paranoid about China's intentions.
China's recent move to ban coal imports from North Korea indicates a pivotal change in the longstanding relationship between the two countries. With a populace brainwashed to accept dynastic rule by members of one family, I suspect
Kim Jong-nam's assassination was an attempt to head off what North Korea believed was a pending Chinese backed coup using him to oust his brother with as little resistance as possible.
Nukes, ICBMs, VX. Interesting times on the Korean Peninsula Shocked


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CRS, DrPH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 26 2017 at 9:34pm
Originally posted by jacksdad jacksdad wrote:

I'm sure Kim Jong-nam's psychopathic little brother fully understood the significance of China protecting someone who could one day be used to overthrow him. Once his father's heir apparent, Kim Jong-nam was ideally placed to replace Kim Jong-un if he started to become too uncontrollable, and killing him in the way they did on foreign soil shows that North Korea is clearly becoming paranoid about China's intentions.
China's recent move to ban coal imports from North Korea indicates a pivotal change in the longstanding relationship between the two countries. With a populace brainwashed to accept dynastic rule by members of one family, I suspect
Kim Jong-nam's assassination was an attempt to head off what North Korea believed was a pending Chinese backed coup using him to oust his brother with as little resistance as possible.
Nukes, ICBMs, VX. Interesting times on the Korean Peninsula Shocked



Great logic, JD!  You left out "bioweapons!"  Hope they don't have any USSR freeze-dried smallpox virus stockpiles! 

(The Soviet Union had over 100 metric TONS of freeze-dried smallpox virus particles that could be loaded onto ICBM warheads....after the USSR fell apart, this stuff has gone missing, which is why we still prep for smallpox at the federal & state level.  Case fatality rate is 50%.)

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jacksdad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 27 2017 at 5:27pm
Hey now, Chuck. I do like to sleep at night if you don't mind

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CRS, DrPH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February 27 2017 at 10:22pm
Originally posted by jacksdad jacksdad wrote:

Hey now, Chuck. I do like to sleep at night if you don't mind


Har!  Check out my new topic on Argonne National Labs!  That is some serious disaster visioning work going on down there, I've heard about it but didn't know much of what they were doing. 


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