image courtesy : Fox News

Malaysia has not directly accused North Korea of being behind the February 13 killing of Kim Jong Nam, but the statement from the Foreign Ministry comes hours after a North Korean envoy rejected a Malaysian autopsy finding that VX nerve agent killed Kim, saying the man probably died of a heart attack because he suffered from heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Mr. Kim, the elder brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was killed on Feb.13 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

“The ministry strongly condemns the use of such a chemical weapon by anyone, anywhere and under any circumstances,” the ministry said in a statement. “Its use at a public place could have endangered the general public.”

The death of Kim, the estranged half brother of North Korea’s ruler has unleashed a diplomatic battle between Malaysia and North Korea. On Thursday, Malaysia announced it was scrapping visa-free entry for North Koreans.

Malaysia’s autopsy finding that VX nerve agent killed Kim boosted speculation that North Korea orchestrated the attack. Experts say the oily poison was almost certainly produced in a sophisticated state weapons laboratory.

Malaysian officials say the two female suspects smeared VX nerve agent ,a banned chemical weapon on Kim’s face as he waited for a flight at Kuala Lumpur’s airport. Kim died within 20 minutes, authorities say. No bystanders reported falling ill.

Malaysian police said the female suspects had been trained to go immediately to the bathroom and wash their hands after attacking Kim. The police said the four North Korean suspects who left the country the day of the killing put the VX liquid on the women’s hands.

Police can’t confirm whether the two women may have been given antidotes before the attack. An antidote, atropine, can be injected after exposure and is carried by medics in war zones where weapons of mass destruction are suspected.

Malaysia has reported the use of the toxic chemical, VX nerve agent, to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which monitors chemical weapons banned under international conventions. The organization must now decide whether to bring the matter of the chemical’s illegal use before the United Nations Security Council.

“The government of Malaysia will fully cooperate with the O.P.C.W. and other international organizations to bring the perpetrators to justice,” the ministry said.

If there is compelling evidence that North Korea used the substance, the United States and its allies can push for a resolution against the North at the Security Council and for new sanctions. Washington can also place the North back on its terrorism-sponsor blacklist.

North Korea is trying to retrieve the body, but it has not acknowledged the victim is Kim Jong Un’s half brother, as Malaysian government officials have confirmed.

North Korea, which has not been allowed to examine Mr. Kim’s body, asserts that he died of heart failure.North Korean officials contend that it is absurd for Malaysia to say that VX nerve agent was used since it is so toxic that many others at the airport also would have died.

Pyongyang refers to the victim as Kim Chol, the name on the diplomatic passport he was carrying when he died. Malaysian police are doing the same, and are seeking next-of-kin who could provide a DNA sample and make a positive identification, steps they say are needed for authorities to give up the body.