VX nerve agent, said to have killed brother of North Korean dictator, explained

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The nerve agent VX was used to kill Kim Jong Nam when he was attacked at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport, Malaysian police said in an emailed statement on Friday.

The elder half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was murdered by two women believed to be North Korean agents at the airport on Feb. 13.

VX is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the UN. North Korea is believed to possess between 2,500 and 5,000 tons of the highly toxic weapon, behind only the U.S. and Russia

Just 10 milligrams of VX on the skin can be fatal. Malaysia police said earlier that the two women may have have smeared two non-fatal elements of VX which mixed on Kim Jon Nam’s face.

VX works by disrupting an enzyme involved in muscle movement.

Normally, motor neurons release the neurotransmitter acetylcholine to stimulate muscle contraction.

The enzyme acetylcholinesterase breaks up the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

VX blocks this enzyme, leading to a buildup of the neurotransmitter, resulting in uncontrolled muscle contraction.

A single drop of VX absorbed on the skin can disrupt the entire nervous system, leading to convulsions, loss of consciousness, paralysis and death due to respiratory failure caused by paralysis of the diaphragm.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Representation of the nerve agent VX
2. Kim Jong Nam attacked by two women at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport
3. How VX works by disrupting an enzyme involved in muscle movement
4. VX disrupts the nervous system, leading to convulsions, loss of consciousness, paralysis and respiratory failure

VOICEOVER (in English):

“VX is a nerve agent that is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the UN.”

“It is a tasteless and colorless liquid with a clear amber color and a consistency like engine oil.”

“Just 10 milligrams on the skin is fatal.”

“Malaysian police say VX was used to kill Kim Jong Nam when he was attacked at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport.”

“Two women may have smeared two non-fatal elements of VX which mixed on Kim’s face.”

“VX works by disrupting an enzyme involved in muscle movement.”

“Motor neurons release a neurotransmitter to stimulate muscle contraction.”

“An enzyme breaks up the neurotransmitter.”

“VX blocks this enzyme, leading to a buildup of the neurotransmitter, resulting in uncontrolled muscle contraction.”

“A single drop of VX absorbed on the skin disrupts the entire nervous system, leading to convulsions, loss of consciousness, paralysis and death due to respiratory failure.”

SOURCES: Reuters, The Star Online, New York Times, CNN, Wikipedia
http://www.thestar.com.my/news/world/2017/02/24/vx-used-in-airport-murder-of-kim-jong-nam-kills-in-minutes/
http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/02/24/jongnam-died-a-horribly-painful-death-says-toxicologist/
http://www.thestar.com.my/videos/2017/02/24/malaysia-says-kim-jong-nam-killed-by-banned-chemical-weapon/
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/24/what-is-vx-nerve-agent-killed-kim-jong-nam-north-korea
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/24/kim-jong-nam-north-korea-killed-chemical-weapon-nerve-agent-mass-destruction-malaysian-police
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/23/world/asia/kim-jong-nam-vx-nerve-agent-.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VX_(nerve_agent)