Malaysia: Ambassador's expulsion is a warning to North Korea

Malaysia's Foreign Ministry ramped up the pressure on Friday, saying it was "greatly concerned" about the use of the nerve agent.

Over the weekend, Putrajaya declared that North Korean Ambassador Kang Chol was now persona non grata and has been expelled from the country, a major break in diplomatic relations.

Foreign Minister Anifah Aman had demanded that North Korea apologize for its criticism of the investigation into the February 13 killing of Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur's worldwide airport. And while President Trump has vowed to adopt a tough stance on Mr. Kim, placing the North back on this list for an assassination might prove quite hard.

VX is a substance listed as a banned chemical weapon under the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention.

Malaysia's investigative options are running out, as only two women - an Indonesian and a Vietnamese both in their 20s - have so far been charged with the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the eldest son of late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

The motive for the assassination of the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appears to be an attempt to forestall any outside effort to install an alternative to the current leader, a former Central Intelligence Agency acting director told VOA this week.

It demanded an apology after the envoy said North Korea could not trust Malaysia's handling of the probe, but said it did not receive one.

Ri Jong Chol, who said he was not at the airport on the day of the incident, was the only North Korean held in connection with the death.

Kang has accused the Malaysian government of trying to hide something and said it colluded with outside powers to defame North Korea.

However, the authorities released and deported the North Korean suspect on Friday citing lack of evidence to press charges.

"He, accompanied by two representatives of the North Korean embassy, are scheduled to depart to their native country today", Mustafar Ali, director general of the Immigration Department said in a statement.

Police never said what they believed Ri's role was in the attack on Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur's airport.

McLaughlin said the United States should relist North Korea as a state of sponsor of terrorism if the communist state is found responsible for the apparent assassination. Around 1,000 North Koreans are working there.

The Nikkei Asian Review sees Malaysia "putting the screws" to North Korea over Kim Jong-nam's murder, viewing the revocation of visa-free travel as the first step in a process that could end with economic sanctions, the severing of diplomatic ties, or even the expulsion of North Korea's ambassador.

Kim Jong Nam was estranged from Kim Jong Un.

The women have told diplomats from their home countries that they thought they were participating in a prank for reality television.

Malaysian authorities are seeking seven other North Korean suspects, four of whom fled the country on the day of Kim's death and are believed to be back in North Korea.

The company Ahmad Zahid referred to is Glocom, described by Forbes as a front company that helps North Korea evade worldwide sanctions.

  • Jon Douglas