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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

North Korea killed Kim Jong Un's brother using VX, says US

The finding was followed by more sanctions against the communist state

A photo released by the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the state news agency, shows leader Kim Jong-un (R) welcoming members of the South Korean delegation during their meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea. EPA /KCNA
A photo released by the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the state news agency, shows leader Kim Jong-un (R) welcoming members of the South Korean delegation during their meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea. EPA /KCNA

North Korea used the chemical warfare agent VX to assassinate the half-brother of the nation's leader Kim Jong Un in 2017, the US State Department said on Tuesday, imposing sanctions in response.

The sanctions appeared largely symbolic, such as sales to North Korea under the Arms Export Control Act and barring the export of national security-sensitive goods and technology to North Korea, which has no relations with the United States.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement that the US government made the formal determination about the use of VX on February 22 under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991.

The additional penalties on Pyongyang went into effect on March 5 after the finding was formally published in the Federal Register, the official journal of the US government, Nauert said.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson determined North Korea had "used chemical weapons in violation of international law or lethal chemical weapons against its own nationals," the department said in the Federal Register.

Kim's estranged half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, was killed at an airport in Kuala Lumpur on February 13, 2017. Two women, Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, are on trial on charges of murdering Kim by smearing his face with VX.