(LEAD) S. Korea's top diplomacy calls for suspension of N.K membership in UN
(ATTN: UPDATES with minor edits; ADDS background on North Korea's chemical weapons)
GENEVA, Feb. 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's top diplomat called Tuesday for a possible suspension of North Korea's membership in the United Nations as part of punishment for its alleged involvement in the recent murder of its leader's half brother by using a prohibited chemical agent.
The diplomatic pressure by Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se at the Conference of Disarmament came after Malaysian police said Kim Jong-nam, half brother of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was killed at a Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb. 13 with VX nerve agent which is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the U.N.
Eight North Koreans including a diplomat have been named as suspects in the murder case, though Pyongyang denies any involvement in his killing.
"Considering that the use of VX nerve agent endangers the safety at airports, effective countermeasures should be taken against such offenses in accordance with relevant international conventions," Yun told the conference.
"And now is the time, I believe, for us to seriously consider taking more fundamental measures on their membership in relevant regional and international forums including the UN as well as the CD," he added.
Yun said that the action could come in the form of a "suspension" of the North's "rights" and "privileges" as a UN member. He also suggested a need to suspend its membership in the Conference of Disarmament as part of punishment for being "serial rule breakers."
"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: Namely, this impulsive, unpredictable, trigger-happy and brutal regime is ready and willing to strike anyone, anytime, anywhere with chemical weapons," he noted.
North Korea began producing chemical weapons in the 1980s and it is estimated that it has about 2,500 to 5,000 tons in stock, according to South Korea's defense ministry.
Yun made the appeal for tough action against the North following his attendance of a UN human rights meeting where he also called for referring the North's Kim Jong-un regime to the International Criminal Court for its human rights violations.
"The international community should hold those violators accountable by bringing the North Korean case to the ICC," Yun said during the human rights meeting.
"We all know who is ultimately responsible for the abuses and crimes. The Republic of Korea fully supports such endeavors for accountability and looks forward to working closely with the international community to this end," he added.