By Stephanie Nebehay and Joseph Sipalan
GENEVA/KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – South Korea called for “collective measures” to punish North Korea for using chemical weapons to kill the estranged half-brother of its leader Kim Jong Un, as Malaysia said on Tuesday it would charge two women with murder over the airport attack.
Police have said the women smeared VX nerve agent, a chemical on a United Nations list of banned weapons of mass destruction, on Kim Jong Nam’s face in an assault captured on security cameras in the Malaysian capital’s airport on Feb. 13.
U.S. and South Korean officials believe he was the victim of an assassination orchestrated by Pyongyang. North Korea said on Tuesday it “categorically rejects” what it called “fictitious and preposterous assumptions”.
Speaking at the U.N.-backed Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva on Tuesday, South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said the use of chemical weapons was a “wake-up call” and the international community should act – including possibly suspending the isolated North’s seat at the United Nations.
“Many international media pointed out that North Korea’s use of chemical weapons for the targeted killing in a third country sent a very clear message to the world,” South Korea’s Yun told the Geneva forum.
“Namely this impulsive, unpredictable, trigger-happy and brutal regime is ready and willing to strike anyone, anytime, anywhere.”
North Korea called his comments “despicable and ill-natured”.
Kim Jong Nam had been living in exile, under Beijing’s protection, in the Chinese territory of Macau, and had criticized the regime of his family and his half-brother, Kim Jong Un.
Malaysian police arrested a Vietnamese woman, Doan Thi Huong, and an Indonesian, Siti Aishah, in the days after the attack.
Police are also holding one North Korean man and have identified seven other North Koreans wanted in connection with a case that reads like the plot to a spy movie.
Both women will be formally charged on Wednesday under…