Ceylon Today Editorial 

(A really worthy read to know about VX and its catastrophic effects -TW)

The nerve agent that was used to kill Kim Jong-nam, half brother of North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-un, who has summarily killed several of his relations and top military men on mere suspicion of betrayal, is among the most deadly chemical weapons of mass destruction ever developed. Identified only as VX, the nerve agent kills in a couple of minutes. It’s banned by the UN as a chemical weapon of mass destruction. Needless to say the killing has sent shockwaves ripping through every political capital in the world

But how much of a stockpile does Korea have? Experts say it’s relatively easy to manufacture.

Jong-nam fled Korea to escape an assassination by his brother. That Jong-nam had no other enemies points the finger directly at Jong-un…and hence raises fears of assassins sent out to world capitals by him with the same lethal VX to take out world leaders.

Image googled by TWImage result for VX nerve agent cartoons

VX is so dangerously and rapidly effective that only a few countries, including North Korea, failed to destroy their stockpiles of the killer nerve agent under a UN Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993.

Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins University Centre for Health Security has said that the frighteningly lethal nerve agent can easily make an entire area non-usable by any life form.

“It’s heavier than other nerve agents, so it settles on an environment and can be persistent on the ground. If it was used in larger quantities, it could make an area non-usable,” he has said.

Global intelligence services have all confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s friend President Assad of Syria has huge stockpiles of chemical weapons in Syria. The specially re-fitted US MV Cape Ray has docked in Spain en route to Syria where, when opportune, it will take out to sea an estimated 560 metric tonnes of chemical weapons, some of which has been reportedly used by Assad already against rebels. VX is among that stockpile, experts say.

VX has the consistency of motor oil that attacks the nervous system and causes convulsions, seizures and paralysis before death.

“It’s probably the most sophisticated nerve agent that has been developed,” says Charles Duelfer, a former US intelligence officer and weapons inspector and former head of the fact-finding mission that looked for weapons of mass destruction – including VX – in Iraq.

Saddam Hussein is believed to have used VX against Iranian forces in the Iran-Iraq War, and then again in a 1988 massacre of Iraqi Kurds that killed 50,000 people, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. The Japanese doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo also used VX for targeted assassinations.

No one knows for how long Kim Jong-un has been having VX. If his brother’s assassination is traced back to him, the assassination could have been a dry run to see how quickly and efficiently any world leader opposed to Jong-un could be taken out on an airliner, in public places or just added onto a bullet head to hit a target at medium to long range.

This possibility has sent shockwaves through all world capitals, especially because Jong-un has successfully test-fired a nuclear missile that can hit Seoul in minutes. But VX carried in artillery rockets? The thought is petrifying!

Experts say the toxin “was almost certainly produced in a sophisticated State weapons laboratory, despite being banned under an international treaty. North Korea never signed that treaty, and has spent decades developing a complex chemical weapons programme that has long worried the international community”.

South Korea, the US, EU and Japan will be deeply worried especially because it’s not known whether they have a ready response to a possible large VX attack by Jong-un.

Experts in Malaysia have begun studying trace amounts of VX found on Kim’s body in a bid to find out from whom the North Koreans learned to make VX.

This means that Jong-un can easily target anyone he pleases in any country in the world…AND THAT INCLUDES SRI LANKA.

All of this makes us ask what possible precautions we can take in the event of such an attack in Colombo or elsewhere in Sri Lanka? As easily done as in Malaysia, after all!

Let’s not forget the string of power outages we experienced last year…all of them as easily possibly done by hacking into the national grid as the Russians and Chinese have hacked into the Ukrainian and US national grids, respectively. At the opportune time, any of these three nations could create unprecedented global havoc bringing industry, commerce and domestic life to a total stop now that they have made their trial runs and found that they work perfectly.

Add VX and we have apocalypse now!

If Putin can dismiss Assad’s use of chemical weapons and help him crush pro-democracy rebels, the VX stockpiles in Syria can be frightening for NATO.