North Korea ordered the assassination last year of its leader’s estranged half brother with a banned nerve agent, an act that has caused the United States to impose new sanctions on the country, the State Department said on Tuesday.
The announcement by the State Department came on the same day that South Korean officials said the North was willing to talk with the United States about ending the crisis over its missiles and nuclear arsenal.
Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, was killed Feb. 13, 2017, with VX, a deadly nerve agent used in prohibited chemical weapons of mass destruction that North Korea is known to have stockpiled.
Kim Jong-nam, who had criticized the dynastic succession in North Korea but had professed no interest in politics, was ambushed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia by two women who smeared his face with VX. The women were arrested.
South Korean and American intelligence officials have long contended that North Korea ordered the killing. North Korea has denied the accusation.
The State Department announcement said that the United States had formally determined on Feb. 22 that North Korea was responsible and that the sanctions took effect on Monday. Under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, the finding added to existing American sanctions “targeting unlawful North Korean activities,” the department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said in the statement.