The U.S. government announced sanctions against North Korea after it blamed the regime for the murder of Kim Jong-un’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam, the State Department said on Tuesday.
The announcement came only hours after South Korea said that Pyongyang would be willing to negotiate with the United States about giving up its nuclear weapons program, CNN reports.
Kim Jong-nam died last year of exposure to VX, a chemical warfare agent which the U.S. considers a weapon of mass destruction. The U.S. State Department said the sanctions which came in response to his killings had taken effect on March 5 even though they will likely have very little to no practical effect as they coincide with measures already levied against North Korea in response to its ballistic missile development and nuclear weapons proliferation.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement that it was determined Kim Jong-un’s regime was responsible for the assassination which took place last February 13 in Kuala Lumpur. However, the statement didn’t offer any further details on how the suspected link between the chemical agent and the North Korean government was definitively proven.
“On February 22, the United States determined under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991 that the Government of North Korea used the chemical warfare agent VX to assassinate Kim Jong-nam, in the Kuala Lumpur airport,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said.
“The United States strongly condemns the use of chemical weapons to conduct an assassination. This public display of contempt for universal norms against chemical weapons use further demonstrates the reckless nature of North Korea and underscores that we cannot afford to tolerate a North Korean WMD program of any kind,” she continued.
Malaysian authorities revealed shortly after Kim-nam’s death that they believed the hermit regime was ultimately responsible, but Pyongyang strongly denies the charge. Two women, Indonesian national Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong, are on trial for murder and face the death penalty if convicted.