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Killing of NK leader's brother and others require U.S. review on chemical weapons: CRS

All News 04:25 September 05, 2020

By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 (Yonhap) -- A rise in the use of chemical weapons by states and terrorist groups, including North Korea, may warrant a U.S. congressional review of efforts to prevent the use and spread of prohibited toxic agents, a U.S. congressional report said Friday.

"With increasing numbers of incidents, the use of chemical weapons has become a growing international concern two decades after the international community decided to ban them under the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention," the report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) said.

The report comes after Germany confirmed that a Soviet-developed nerve agent, Novichok, had been used in a failed attempt to assassinate Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny last month.

The report also included North Korea in its list of states and groups known to have used chemical weapons.

The illustrated photo shows Kim Jong-nam (L), the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who was killed February 2017 in a chemical agent attack by two Asian women. The murder suspects -- one Vietnamese and one Indonesian -- later claimed they were hired by North Korean agents for what they thought was only a prank. (Yonhap)

A Vietnamese woman and an Indonesian woman had been arrested for killing Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in February 2017 at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport by using the banned chemical weapon VX nerve agent.

They had claimed to have been simply hired by North Korean agents for a prank.

"The U.S. State Department determined that North Korea's government ordered the VX attack in 2017 in Malaysia," the report noted.

Earlier Friday, the U.S. State Department said Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun has expressed "grave concern" about Germany's finding that Russian opposition leader Navalny was poisoned by a chemical nerve agent in a meeting with Russian Amb. Anatoliy Antonov in Wshington.

"He noted further that the use of this chemical weapon by Russia would be a clear violation of its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention," the department said in a press release.

The CRS noted the recent incidents involving the use of banned chemical weapons may indicate a need for stepped-up efforts to prevent future use of such substances.

"Congress may wish to consider how best to respond to the use of chemical weapons, including how future use could be deterred, and whether U.S. forces are adequately protected," said the CRS report, titled "Resurgence of Chemical Weapons Use: Issues for Congress."

"Congress may consider whether the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) has adequate resources for investigations, and it may also examine the success of efforts to curb proliferation of chemical weapons-related material and technology, such as interdictions, international sanctions, and export-control assistance programs," it said.


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